Android's open source nature allows developers to tailor the OS exactly to their needs, and a team of programmers has taken it upon itself to build an Android version for the classic x86 desktop processor environment. The Android x86 project has now hit its next milestone and has published the first Android 9 Pie release candidate that people can run on their virtual machines or desktop computers.
Considering that Android 10 was released a while ago, you might think that the Android x86 team is moving pretty slowly, but you have to keep in mind that the open source project is maintained by a precious few people only. I for my part think it's pretty impressive that they manage to churn out working release after release.
Apart from the regular novelties coming with Android 9 Pie, the project has also extended compatibility with desktop hardware by incorporating new drivers and improvements to the installation workflow. The project has historically always stuck to an interface close to stock Android, but this release includes an optional taskbar with a start menu and a recent apps tray as an alternative launcher, which should be better suited for usage with mouse and keyboard.
Here's the list of features:
- Support both 64-bit and 32-bit kernel and userspace with latest LTS kernel 4.19.80.
- Support OpenGL ES 3.x hardware acceleration for Intel, AMD, Nvidia and QEMU(virgl) by Mesa 19.0.8.
- Support OpenGL ES 3.0 via SwiftShader for software rendering on unsupported GPU devices.
- Support hardware accelerated codecs on devices with Intel HD & G45 graphics family.
- Support secure booting from UEFI and installing to UEFI disk.
- A text based GUI installer.
- Add theme support to GRUB-EFI.
- Support Multi-touch, Audio, Wifi, Bluetooth, Sensors, Camera and Ethernet (DHCP only).
Auto-mount external usb drive and sdcard.
- Add Taskbar as an alternative launcher which puts a start menu and recent apps tray on top of your screen and support freeform window mode.
- Enable ForceDefaultOrientation on devices without known sensors. Portrait apps can run in a landscape device without rotating the screen.
- Support arm arch apps via the native bridge mechanism. (Settings -> Android-x86 options)
- Support to upgrade from non-official releases.
- Add experimental Vulkan support for newer Intel and AMD GPUs. (Boot via Advanced options -> Vulkan support)
- Simulate WiFi adapter by Ethernet to increase app compatibility.
- Mouse integration support for VMs including VirtualBox, QEMU, VMware and Hyper-V
- Android x86