Android has gone through quite a few changes during its short 6 years of life. The Android that drives most of the world's smartphones of today would be almost unrecognizable to what was launched in late 2008. We've seen massive visual changes, expansion to almost every conceivable form factor, and a completely fleshed-out content ecosystem for multimedia and apps. As the operating system matured, some elements have successfully grown with it, and others have become dead weight.
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.
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.
Shortly after the new Android Runtime made its grand entrance, I ran a pretty exhaustive (and exhausting) series of performance benchmarks that showed ART wasn't really ready to blow us away. At the time, I opted to avoid the topic of battery life because it is so difficult to test accurately and with unbiased, meaningful results. As it turns out, that was dumb. Yup, so many of you have asked, I finally had no choice but to dive in and run a battery of tests on...well, the battery.
By now you've probably heard about ART and how it will improve the speed and performance of Android, but how does it actually perform today? The new Android Runtime promises to cut out a substantial amount of overhead by losing the baggage imposed by Dalvik, which sounds great, but it's still far from mature and hasn't been seriously optimized yet. I took to running a battery of benchmarks against it to find out if the new runtime could really deliver on these high expectations.
It's fair to say that Android went through some chaotic years in the beginning. The pace of development was frantic as the operating system grew at an unprecedented rate. An as-yet undetermined future led to decisions that were made to conform to existing hardware and architectures, the available development tools, and the basic need to ship working code on tight deadlines. Now that the OS has matured, the Android team has been giving more attention to some of the components that haven't aged quite as well.
If you're in the modding and theming community, your work is about to get a bit faster, because Smali v2.0 is now in beta and firing on all cylinders. The new version brings multithreaded processing and a few tweaks to the language that should result in cleaner-looking code.
This week, we saw a new kid among Android decompilers hit the street - JEB. JEB is a full featured, commercial dalvik decompiler aimed at security researchers and reverse engineers. Although many other decompilers exist, such as DED, Androguard, baksmali, dex2jar, undx, etc and most of them are free and work quite well, JEB comes with features not seen in most free tools:
- Easy to use UI
- Direct dalvik to java decompilation
- Easy on the eyes bytecode
- Easy cross referencing of items
- Easy renaming of items
The downside is mainly the price, weighing in at a hefty $1000.
Myriad is continuing their quest to make Android apps run on just about everything with the release of Alien Dalvik 2.0. The latest operation system in their crosshairs is none other than iOS -- specifically the iPad branch of iOS. That's right, Android apps on an iPad.
I can sense your skepticism over the internet (it's a new WordPress plugin) so perhaps some background info will make this a little more believable: Myriad is a founding member of the Open Handset Alliance, a Google-assembled group of companies that support Android.
Some combinations are as natural as peanut butter and jelly - Avatar & 3D, Apple & dictatorship, and Conan O'Brien & late-night comedy, to name a few. But are Android apps and the BlackBerry PlayBook also such a sweet match? If you ask RIM, the answer is a firm, definitive "yes."
The BlackBerry maker just confirmed the age-old rumors - it's announced that the upcoming QNX-based PlayBook tablet will support Android apps.