It looks like Google is putting the last nail in Dalvik's coffin, and the new Android Runtime (ART) is about to take the throne. A pair of commits turned up last night in the master branch of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) repository that spell certain doom for the Android runtime we've known
and loved for all these years. The first of the two changes completely wipes the /libdvm (Dalvik Virtual Machine) folder from AOSP, and the second takes care of changing all of the relevant configuration files and startup scripts to call on the ART runtime. Yup, this is the end for Dalvik.
Note: The line of 'D's on the far left mean: Delete. Bye-bye Dalvik!
Back in January, we had a pretty good indication that ART was set to become the new default runtime with the next version of Android, but there still remained some level of doubt. At the time, there was no reason to believe that the change wouldn't be reverted, or that it wasn't just a shortcut to enable more convenient testing. While these changes could also be easily reverted, there's really no point to publishing them unless the final intent is to completely remove Dalvik entirely. This also clears up the other remaining question: would Dalvik remain an option even after ART became the default runtime. Obviously, the answer is 'No.'
That about wraps it up. This is great news for fans of ART; and for anybody that isn't... Tough luck. For developers, this is as close to a flashing red light as you can get without an official statement from Google. While the next release of ART will probably go further to improve compatibility with existing apps, it's unlikely to clean up every last issue. In other words, if your app isn't already compatible, you should really get on that.
I'll just end this with the comment left by developer Brian Carlstrom upon the deletion of libdvm (explanation):
Dalvik is dead, long live Dalvik!
Thanks to everybody that sent in tips.