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It was only 3 months ago when we first met the brand new Android Runtime, dubbed ART. In that time it has gained a substantial following by enthusiasts throughout the Android community. Given its "preview" status and warnings from the Android team that ART wasn't ready for the general population, it appeared unlikely that it would officially take the place of Dalvik anytime soon. However, a new commit to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) is strong evidence that ART may become the default runtime in the next version of Android.


The change in code is quite simple, it merely sets ART as the default and bumps Dalvik in as the alternate. Dalvik obviously hasn't been abandoned yet, but its days may be numbered. Thanks to rapid adoption by the community and helpful bug reports, the Android team must have worked through enough of the stability issues to consider ART ready for primetime.

While this change to configuration is now live in the master branch, it doesn't necessarily mean ART will become the default in official releases from Google for some time. It's not uncommon for code changes to be made early in the life of a project without including them in final builds. The developers may have made the change to simplify testing or to make automated builds easier to manage. It's even possible that this will be reverted in the future. In other words, it's too early to be absolutely certain ART has moved into the #1 position, but it's looking pretty good.

Keep an eye out for part 4 of my series introducing ART [parts 1, 2, and 3], coming really soon!

Thanks, Justin!

Source: AOSP

Cody Toombs
Cody is a Software Engineer and Writer with a mildly overwhelming obsession with smartphones and the mobile world. If he’s been pulled away from the computer for any length of time, you might find him talking about cocktails and movies, sometimes resulting in the consumption of both.

  • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

    Now that Titanium Backup is "ART-compatible" I've had almost zero problems with it, except for Google's SoundSearch crashing all the time. Even WhatsApp apparently works now according to this list of working/notworking apps: http://www.androidruntime.com/list

    Everything is just qualitatively snappier with ART vs Dalvik, and the only real downside for me, as a flashaholic, is that rebuilding the app cache after installing each CyanogenMod nightly takes over 5 times longer on my Note 3 with ~300 apps (~20+ mins vs 5mins), and gets a little hot.

    • Michael

      No reason Xposed won't work on ART per the author commenting on his GitHub commits...

      rovo89 commented on ebc0eac 2 months ago

      Probably yes. I have already spent several dozen hours to rewrite Xposed for ART and finally I have the main features working on my devices. But lots of things are still instable or not tested. And I need to change a lot more things to make it run side by side with Dalvik support etc. So that definitely won't come before 2014 and won't be "official" as long as ART is still experimental itself. I might even drop support for these experimental versions later if the final version needs another rewrite.

      • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

        Mmm. So there's hope yet. Thanks.

      • Jules

        This gives great hope. The only reason to keep stock KK on my Nexus is because of Xposed and module Gravitybox (and/or Xblast Tools). And more modules hard to miss such as Greenify Extra's, AppOps KK, Enable Batterystats KK, XHalo Floating Windows, XTheme (or future stable HKTheme) Engine, etc.

        Without Xposed and those modules and with ART would make custom roms for me far more interesting than stock Android.

        Many people by the way get better results with patched Dalvik and Bionic from Motorola for Snapdragon cpu's than current ART. But most likely ART will make great progress in future version and will be irresistable.

    • KingofPing

      If I am not mistaken (and I may very well be), Google "Ears" (sound search) is superseded by the latest versions of Google Search.

      It stopped working for me, so on a lark I hit the microphone in the search widget. After a second or two (of me not saying anything) it apparently heard the music and popped a note into the field which indicated "Listen for Music". Hitting that brought up the song title/artist and gave me the option to play it in Google Play Music All Access.

      • remister

        I was doing this (waiting for the music icon to come up), until I heard you can say "What's this song?" for it to do music detect search.

        • KingofPing


          Very cool. Thanks!

          • remister

            Now to get back the Camera function into Google Now...

          • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

            Yeah, the integrated barcode scanner was a nice feature.

  • Armando Rodriguez

    Ok, now I want Xposed framework on ART! I hope the dev can re write it...

    • Gert-Jan Anema

      I am sure he can! I heard he is already trying his best on it!

      • Charlotte Frank

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        ◛◛◛ ◛◛�◛ ◛◛�◛◛ ◛◛◛ ◛◛◛I might even drop support for these experimental versions later if the final version needs another rewrite.

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    Wait, what? Nononono, if they evaporate Dalvik completely - half of the Play Store apps will stop working because they are not compatible!

    Google is gonna kill Android!!

    • Testraindrop

      I have zero problems with any of my apps...

      • Mike Reid

        Maybe not your apps, or many high profile apps with regular updates....

        And I don't think it's as dramatic as Fatal1ty_93_RUS indicates...

        But there are a LOT of old apps out there that are not compatible (so far) and will never be updated. And some very useful apps are in that category.

        But Google COULD "fix" some of these problems. My own apps had a silly little ART "bug"* that I fixed. But Google COULD have added a bit of code to make ART as "friendly" and crash resistant as Dalvik has been. And maybe Google still will. In the case of my issue, a simple check for a null value (which Dalvik does) would have prevented the issue in my app.

        *I put "bug" in quotes because this was related to an NDK interface, and I've never seen any documentation anywhere saying that Null values would crash the API. Just one of those things that new versions of Android tend to break, either because they are undocumented, or because they always worked OK before.

        • naysayer

          Right, but the truth is: Old apps break all the time. I have a lot of apps that are abandoned and don't work properly on newer versions. Google can't really prevent that, with or without ART, or else they need to stop improving Android alltogether.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            That's why Google needs to punish devs with a fee if they don't support newer Android versions properly, like Square Enix forgot about Chrono Trigger and don't update it while it doesn't work on 4.3 and above

          • Treymok

            I run Chrono Trigger on 4.4 just fine....

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            Does it? I was pretty sure some SE games don't support latest Android versions

      • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

        Angry Birds Go, Asphalt 8, AutoCAD 360, BitTorrent, Contre Jour, Cydia, Dead Effect, Fieldrunners 2, None of the Final Fantasy games, FL Studio, Genie (News & Weather widget), Groove IP, GTA San Andreas, Heroes of Order and Chaos, iGo, JetAudioPlus, Kingdom Rush, Kingsoft Office, modern combat 4, MX Player Pro, Naked Browser, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Nexus Media Importer, Nova Launcher, Order and Chaos, Plants vs. Zombies, Rayman Fiesta Run, Re-Volt 2, Re-Volt Classic, Shadowgun: Deadzone, Sine Mora, Smart Office 2, SoIid Explorer, Star Command, VLC Media Player, Wild Blood, XBMC

        - None of these apps work with ART. You really think it's okay to replace Dalvik with ART when this can potentially brake Android usage for some people?

        • guitarguy23

          The funny part is that I'm running ART AND most of those apps you mentioned. Plus, never once have any of my apps force-closed on me during my adoption of ART. Truth.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

          I use very few of these, or I haven't played them in quite a while, but everything in the list that you mention that I still use is working just fine. I use Nova Launcher on my N4 right now and I've tested in on my N5. I even used MX Player in my battery life benchmark just last week. Admittedly, MX only just fixed its issue with ART about 2-3 weeks ago.

        • Senoy

          I can confirm, that Angry Birds Go, Kingsoft Office, MX Player, Nova Launcher, Solid Explorer are 100% working on my ART enabled N5, and I'm pretty sure that majority of those apps will work just fine on ART

          • bmg1k1

            As soon as I saw Nova on that list, I immediately dismayed all the other apps listed. Whether the other people like it or not, ART will be the default in the future.

        • hp420

          and no xposed!!

    • gs


    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Shawn De Cesari

      Overreact much?

  • Plerisei


  • Telefunken

    Does that mean ART is on its way for more than a handful of phones/tablets?

    • http://www.Mikereviews.co.uk/ Mike Brown


    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      If I were to guess, Nexus devices will probably switch to ART automatically. I'm inclined to think this will happen in the next version, but I'm not locked into that theory.

      I'm not sure about devices that are already out in the wild. The SGS4 and HTC One, for example, might remain on Dalvik for the duration of their lives or they might bump to ART with the next major version. There are credible arguments for both outcomes.

      Future devices will obviously move to ART. There might be a few that initially release with Dalvik if the OEM customizations are already in development and switching to ART would be a problem, but I suspect those will all make the switch with OTAs.

  • Android Developer

    I wonder if they have overcome the disadvantages of ART, like the need for more storage.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      I'll actually cover some details about that in my next Meet ART post. There is an excessive space requirement right now, but it should be possible to cut that back in the future.

      • Android Developer

        How do you intend on making a new article about it?
        Do you have a leaked version of the new Android OS ?
        Did you compile the code that is currently available?

        Or is it just an unknown time in the future?

  • tocsin

    Any one else get weird graphical glitches on GTA SA with art? I get weird white shit popping up all the time, doesnt happen on dalvik only art.

    • http://www.twitter.com/joshuaworth Joshua Worth

      Yeah I get that same issue.

  • firesoul453

    "ART Likely To Replace Dalvik In Upcoming Release Of Android"
    Kinda obvious really...

    But ART still has plenty of problems.

  • hp420

    So long, xposed....it's been nice knowing you :( I've been using android for 4 years now, and for the first time I have had a plain factory rom on my phone, only using xposed to make the changes I want. I've had so much free time without having to worry about having the latest update, etc.
    I hope rovo89 can get it working on art before this commit becomes final.

  • http://the-jade-domain.com Jaime J. Denizard

    I love how one of the related posts for this news article is "[Breaking] Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) Being Pushed To AOSP Right Now!" lol

  • http://mobers.org/ psydex

    My back button doesn't work when running ART. How it's "almost done"? There are plenty of bugs to fix