A familiar criticism that has come out of the technology industry regarding the Android operating system is its fragmentation which comes out of its open source nature. When Android releases an update for its operating system, the update introduces an updated operating system framework whilst reworking the vendor implementation of the system lying underneath. With this mechanism, the vendor implementation must constantly be reworked and updated to work in conjunction with the released Android OS update, and this becomes a significant reason for why Android chooses to abandon its older firmware when newer versions of the operating system are installed fresh onto its newer devices. This poses significant security threats for older devices that have users’ credentials and other financial information stored. With Android’s Project Treble, the requirement to rework the underlying vendor implementation each time is bypassed, allowing just the new higher level AOSP operating system code to install over the same original vendor’s hardware code system. In Android versions 7.0 (Nougat) and earlier, this was a major issue that forced Android to desist updates for device systems once they became over two years old. With Android Oreo version 8.0, Project Treble has reworked the operating system to allow for updates to bind as separate layers of code without needing to rework the underlying vendor’s level code.
With Android’s P Beta version released on select devices, a developer (joeyhuab) on XDA’s forum managed to find a way to port the operating system update to several Qualcomm Snapdragon devices that supported the Treble updating mechanism. Following this feat, the same unofficial port of Android P Beta has been released for the Xiaomi Mi A1, a device part of the unmodified Android Operating system clan, the Android One. The device does not fundamentally support Project Treble but can be made to do so to receive the update to Android P Beta well. XDA claims that the initially observed bugs in the port which disturbed the fingerprint scanner, camera, and Bluetooth functionalities are now resolved. The port, however, still seems to have some issues with the voice over LTE feature which doesn’t work at all on the port installed devices, and the Security Enhanced Linux module that implements access control security policies is rendered permissive. The porting process also demands that the device be repartitioned which means that all data on the device will be lost in the process and so backups should be created in advance.
XDA has published this unofficial Android P Beta port for Xiaomi Mi A1 on its developers’ forum along with lengthy and detailed instructions for the entire process from start to end. The forum also has support threads on the site where user queries regarding the procedure are tended to. Kudos to the developers at XDA for this release.