Google is going back to the Linux roots of its mobile operating system (MOS) by means of the Android Oreo. Together with the eighth iteration of the OS is the introduction of Linux kernel requirements to smartphone manufacturers who want to use the Android MOS.
For nearly a decade, Google has been offering its own OS to manufacturers to be used on their smartphones. This has lead to a boom in smartphones in the late 2000's which would not have been possible if Apple was left alone in the market, especially with the proprietary nature of its iOS. Android democratized the smartphone, making it accessible to even low-end buyers.
The main draw of the Android platform is the ease of which it can be used by both manufacturer and the users. This user-friendly nature has somewhat concealed that it originated from a Linux-based operating system, with Linux being a complicated software more suited for computer enthusiasts and not the average person.
Google has given companies free reign with certain aspects regarding the use of its OS. The Linux kernel version that was used by the manufacturer wasn't much of an issue and as long as it was able to pass the certification tests that Google lays out, then they didn't care what version was used on a new device.
Google is requiring the system on chip (SOC) productized in 2017 must launch with kernel 4.4 or newer. While this certainly isn't good news for manufacturers who now have new restrictions imposed on them, it brings good news for the consumers and for Google.
Not only will the use of the new version make the OS more secure, it will also allow Google to use fewer resources to keep it secure going forward. However, this doesn't mean that all vulnerabilities present in the OS will disappear.
However, this only applies to newer devices. Google has made it clear that all devices released prior to Android Oreo will be upgraded to the OS.