As Android is based on Linux, the existing two-year lifecycle for Long Term Support (LTS) kernels is restrictively short. But, during a presentation about Android's Project Treble, Google's Iliyan Malchev announced that this is going to -- appropriately -- treble to six years.
This will address what has become a serious issue for chip-makers. During the production process, they need to pick the most recent LTS kernel to work with to ensure longevity, but the length of time it takes to design and produce chips means that much of the two years of support is used up by the time of release.
Making Android modular with Project Treble is Google's solution to its fragmentation and update problem
With six years of support promised, chip-makers can stick with a kernel, and keep it patched without the need for major updates. The change is coming soon. During his presentation, Malchev said: "Greg Kroah-Hartman has given me permission to announce this here: He will extend LTS to six years, starting with kernel 4.4."
As many of the new batch of flagship phones with Snapdragon 835 chips already have version 4.4 of the kernel, meaning they are in line for six years of support.
The change of lifecycle is yet to filter through to kernel.org where 4.4's end of life is still listed as being February 2018. Malchev said that the six year LTS would be announced on the site shortly after his speech, but the update has not yet been made.