Google Chromebook Pixel (2015) and many older Chromebooks may not get Android P

Google Chromebook Pixel (2015) and many older Chromebooks may not get Android P

Google may not roll out Android P to the Google Chromebook Pixel (2015) and many Chromebooks running kernel 3.14 and older, according to comments on a Chromium Code review.

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The comment means that a large number of Chromebooks don’t meet the cut, including the Google Chromebook Pixel 2015 (Samus), which is on 3.14.

Based on Chromium code reviews over the past several months, testing of Android P on Chrome OS is well underway, and the necessary features and functionality needed to support P are slowly trickling in. The focus has consistently been targeted at newer kernels (4.4 and 4.14 – the latter isn’t on a release device yet) and then working back to 3.18. This recent comment confirms that 3.18 is as far as Google intends – at least for the foreseeable future.

While we should take these comments with a huge grain of salt, it’s not the first time Google has made controversial cutoffs for new Chrome OS features. Android apps didn’t make it to the original Pixel, and some older Chromebooks won’t be receiving Linux app support, for example.

The comment also mentions that 3.18 devices (of which the Samsung Chromebook Pro is the test machine of choice), won’t get support until at least version 71, which is scheduled for mid-December.

Don’t hold your breath

While there is a glimmer of hope for an extension of support after the initial rollout, it’s not something that we can count on – Google’s track record demonstrates that. Android was originally promised on many devices, but after two years, more than thirty Chrome devices are still pending support.

This news is salt in the wound for those running perfectly functional older Chromebooks, and naturally raises the question about why the kernels aren’t updated on older Chrome devices.

While there is a precedent for upgrading kernels on older devices, testing and evaluating each device through kernel upgrades is resource-intensive, especially as Google puts products through a stringent suite of device-by-device tests for quality assurance. It comes down to the cost of change vs system stability.

This is a controversial stance for Google to take. Many of these pre-3.18 devices are within their five (or 6.5)-year device lifespan. It’s yet to be seen how missing out on Android P will impact the Android experience on Chromebooks (if at all), but those who like to be on the cutting edge should probably start saving up for an upgrade.

Source: Chromium Gerrit

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