Back at the Google I/O keynote this summer, we saw a very interesting demonstration - as Sundar Pichai explained, Google wants to make the experience between Android devices and Chromebooks seamless by allowing Android apps to run natively on Chrome (using App Runtime for Chrome, currently in beta). Evernote, Vine, and Flipboard were demonstrated on stage, and today Google has announced the first batch of Android apps that will run on Chrome right now.
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.
We know Blackberry isn't the most popular name around here, but it is a name that continues to pop up at some interesting times. Developers, in particular, may remember when the company - then known as RIM - launched Playbook OS 2.0 with the ability to run specially packaged apps developed for Android 2.3.3. Since that time, events and promotions have been run to encourage developers to bring their apps to the platform, but the aging requirement to target Gingerbread has become a burden.
I know. You thought Flash was long gone. You mourned the relationship and moved on. Having made peace with the past and exploring a bright future, you were ready to start a new life with HTML5. Now, thanks to Mozilla, your ex has come calling, bringing back all those old memories. But enough with the metaphors. The organization behind Firefox announced Shumway, an open SWF runtime project, today. With this, the company hopes to bring compatibility for Flash content back to the web, particularly on mobile.