Android’s Reddit AMA addresses fragmentation and the end of blob emoji

Android O

Over 20 participants from Google’s Android team recently took part in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) thread on Reddit, answering a wide range of questions from curious fans.

The questions covered a variety of topics from SafetyNet to autofill, but one of the most intriguing topics covered was Project Treble, which was announced in May at the Google I/O developer conference.

Treble, which will come in every Android O device out of the box, aims to reduce Android fragmentation by making it easier, faster and less expensive for its device maker partners to implement software updates by separating the vendor interface so that chip makers don’t have to rewrite code with every new version of Android.



In the AMA, a user asked if it was optimistic to think Treble could be the solution to Android’s fragmentation issues, which are caused by lengthy update times dependent on device and carrier.

While the Android team didn’t go as far as calling Treble a cure-all, they were optimistic.

“In addition to the engineering changes, which enable Project Treble on all new devices launched with Android O and beyond, we’re working closely with device makers and silicon manufacturers to both get required Android customizations (such as carrier-specific requirements) into AOSP [Android Open Source Project], and reduce their cost and complexity when updating to the new version of Android,” wrote the team.

In specific, it noted that Sony and Qualcomm had already contributed “dozens of features and hundreds of bug fixes” into AOSP so that they don’t need to rework those patches with each new release. The team also noted that more information about Treble would be posted shortly on their blog.

On a less technical matter, Android also addressed the extinction of the beloved blob emoji in favour of the new hideously generic options shown below.

Android O Emoji

Android explained that the death of the blob emoji came down to two main issues, the first being the growth of Unicode’s emoji-set and new messaging use cases such as larger emoji used as stickers.

“The current design system did not lend itself well to supporting the expanding emoji set and these new use cases, so we needed a significant visual refresh,” concluded the team.

In my personal opinion, that’s hardly an excuse to kill off the most lovable emoji on the market — and it’s certainly not an apology — but it’s as good we’ll get.

The Android team also discussed why reliable and consistent theming is more difficult than you might think.

Check out the full thread here, and let us know what you found most interesting in the comments.