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Android GPU driver updates are still dependent on OEMs, to be released quarterly

Last year, Qualcomm made a pretty interesting announcement at the Snapdragon Technology Summit - it will soon be possible to get GPU driver updates from the Play Store, independently from OS updates. Earlier this week, the company talked a bit more about this, announcing the Android GPU Inspector tool in collaboration with Google. The announcement also mentioned that updateable GPU drivers would be coming to the Pixel 4, Samsung Galaxy S10, and Note10, confirming that the feature would also be available for the Snapdragon 855 chipset.

Now, in a statement to Android Authority, Qualcomm has clarified even more details about the way these GPU drivers will be released. First, the company says it's committed to a quarterly schedule for these driver releases, and that it will support chipsets for two to three years after they launch, which isn't too bad.

However, there's a detail that may not please those that might have been excited about this new feature. Qualcomm noted that it's up to each OEM to release these new drivers for their phones, saying "Qualcomm is committing to a quarterly cadence for release of updated drivers to the OEM". This idea is reiterated with a follow-up statement:

“While we can commit to supporting chipsets for two to three years post-launch, the OEM has the final say in rolling out the new drivers to their customers(...). Some OEMs have a good track record in supporting legacy device software updates whilst others don’t.”

With many OEMs having significantly different takes on the implementation of Android, fragmentation of updates has been a problem for enthusiasts for a while. Qualcomm's initial announcement may have generated some hope that this would change that, at least for GPU drivers, but it seems like that won't be the case.

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