Go ahead and file this one in the Super Cool Tech category. A Russian blog, Rozetked.ru, posted video of a Galaxy S2 running two copies of Android at the same time. The three-and-a-half minute video takes us through a demo switching between a pair of ROMs while playing music from both, proving that the hardware resources can be shared. After the audio segment, we are shown decently high frame rates on a 3D benchmarking app and Angry Birds. According to the team behind the project, running two concurrent instances of Android only takes about 10% off of battery life while the impact on system speed is negligible. Unfortunately, the voiceover and original subtitles are in Russian, but the automatic translation on YouTube does a passable job of clearing things up for the rest of us. (You may need to manually enable subtitles.)
The project comes from a team of students at the St. Petersburg University of Russian Academy of Sciences in collaboration with Parallels, a company well-known for its cloud computing and virtualization products. We reached out to Parallels, and they were happy to confirm the video's legitimacy.
I can assure you that this video states total truth. Indeed, Parallels has strong connection to the project evolvement. The technology’s been researched by group of students in Parallels Lab (it is our own educational laboratories in leading Russian Universities) at St. Petersburg University of Russian Academy of Sciences. To be specific, it is an experimental student project supervised by Parallels pros. The technology allows running multiple Android isolated environments on single Android device - effective and scalable with low overhead on virtualization. Yet it is still a technology with plans for further product development.
As you can see, development is still in the early stages, meaning this might not be available as a product for quite a while. And when it does become a product, locked bootloaders and a wide variety of driver-related issues will probably make manual installation impractical for average users and expensive for the company to support. More likely, Parallels will license the software to OEMs like Samsung and HTC and bundle it with devices, or include it as part of a firmware update. Despite a few potential hurdles to get over, this advancement really is something to be excited about. The potential for virtualization in the mobile space is amazing, and may ultimately lead to the next revolution in how we use our devices.
Thanks, Denis Mukhin.