Older Chrome OS Devices Likely Not to Get Updated to Android P Framework

A new comment in Chrome OS Gerrit suggests that some older Chromebooks will not be getting updated to the Android P framework, including the 2015 Google Chromebook Pixel.  It isn’t entirely surprising, and not entirely confirmed for that matter, that Google would begin to pear back updates for the framework.

For those who aren’t familiar, the Android Framework is more-or-less the underpinnings that allows Chrome OS to install and run Android apps.  Right now that framework is based on Android Oreo but testing has long been in progress with Android P.  But, like some phones, there comes a point where the devices themselves can’t support the new framework or it causes performance issues.  While not confirmed, that’s likely the case for some older Chromebooks that can run Android apps.

Let me clear that this does not mean that older Chromebooks won’t run Android P apps.  Far from it.  It just means that the framework won’t be updated so any new functionality that is presented in P won’t be available on Chromebooks.  You will still be able to run Android apps and, if your Chromebook falls into the 5-year window of support, will still get regular updates.

Based on the comment, it appears that are running kernel 3.14 or older won’t be updated.  If you want to check your kernel version, type chrome://system then scroll down to the uname.  There you will see the the term Linux Localhost.  That is your kernel version.  Here is an example from my Google Pixelbook.

Uname information from Google Pixelbook
Uname information from Google Pixelbook

What the long term implications of this for Chromebook users, if this is indeed true, is not fully known.  It will largely depend on what features are in Android P and more specifically, in the framework destined for Chrome OS.

As mentioned, for now, this is to make you aware of the possibility.  Code commits and particularly comments in them have to be treated with a fair amount of side-eye until they start getting into Dev and Beta channel releases, something that hasn’t happened in this case yet.