Google drops plans to make NNAPI drivers updatable through Google Play Services
At its I/O developer conference last year, Google announced that it was working with Qualcomm to make the Neural Network APIs (NNAPIs) that power AI/ML features in Android updatable through Google Play Services starting with Android 12. The idea behind this move was to reduce fragmentation and allow developers to use the same NNAPI spec for devices running different versions of Android. Following the announcement, the Android ML team quietly delayed the updateable NNAPI platform driver plans to Android 13. And now, the team has reportedly abandoned the effort altogether.
According to a recent report from Esper, the Android ML team has submitted new patches to the AOSP Gerrit this week, which suggest that Google is giving up on its plans to make the NNAPI drivers updatable through Google Play Services. The new patches aim to remove any code related to NNAPI updatability because the Android ML team did not move forward with its updatability plans.
Patches removing the isUpdatable query from the NNAPI runtime and HAL
As the commit descriptions explain: “The NNAPI originally planned to have updated platform drivers delivered through GMSCore. These updateable drivers would be retrieved through the NN sAIDL utility code, and were known to be updatable through Manager.cpp’s Device::isUpdatable query. However, the NNAPI ultimately did not move forward with its updatability plans.”
Google has not provided any reasoning behind this move, so we can’t say for sure why the Android ML team abandoned its efforts. However, this change doesn’t necessarily imply that Google won’t make NNAPIs updatable at all. The company could opt for a different approach in the future, but we can be sure that it won’t happen in Android 12 or Android 13.