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.
Porting an operating system to a completely different architecture is a lot of work. As such, it's not surprising that the Android x86 project ― which aims to get Android running on traditional Intel/AMD x86 computers ― usually lags quite a bit behind mainline releases. The team released its first Oreo build last year, and now a stable version is available.
Intel may have announced the end of its ultra-low-power Atoms almost two years ago, but the death of the platform wasn't instantaneous, it took some time. While it was sad to see another mobile SoC competitor drop out of the race, at the same time it seemed inevitable given Intel's x86-based approach.
However, Intel's mobile death-throes continue to be dragged out due to contractual obligations, and a couple new chipsets have been released based on the Intel's x86 designs. In fact, Senwa was showing off a pair of Intel-powered devices at MWC this year. Although we might have missed them when we were there, Anandtech didn't.
It has been a very long time since we last covered Android x86, but the project is still alive and kicking. If you're not familiar with it, Android x86 is a port of Android to x86-based PCs and Macs, with almost no changes to the interface (for better or for worse). The first stable port of Android 7.1 has just been released, so you can enjoy Nougat on your PC or virtual machine of choice.
CrossOver by CodeWeavers has been available for Mac and Linux for years, allowing users of those operating systems to run some Windows programs without a copy of Windows. It does this by utilizing Wine, an open-source Windows compatibility layer for Unix-based operating systems (CodeWeavers is one of the main contributors to Wine's codebase).
CodeWeavers is well-known for its CrossOver software, which allows some Windows programs to run on Mac and Linux. Back in August of last year, the company released a preview of CrossOver for Android, designed for Chromebooks with the Play Store and x86-based Android devices. Now CodeWeavers has released an update to the Preview, bringing several major improvements.
If you have ever used Linux, Mac, or another *nix operating system, you've probably heard of Wine. No, not the beverage - it's software that allows Windows programs to run on platforms that aren't Windows. Wine is one of my favorite open-source projects, under development since 1993 and having a massive community of developers and testers. Wine also maintains a database of compatible programs, which should give you an idea of the impressive compatibility.
CrossOver is essentially a commercial version of Wine, offering technical support and easier configuration of programs. Almost three years after development started on CrossOver for Android, CodeWeavers (the company responsible for CrossOver) is finally sharing a working preview on Google Play.
Windows Phone, eat your heart out. Android is now capable of virtualizing a full and up-to-date Windows desktop operating system. Well, one phone is at least, and it's probably not one you would have guessed: the ASUS ZenFone 2. XDA-Developers forum member ycavan managed to get Windows 7 running on his phone using a variety of custom tools, some impressive technical skill, and quite a lot of patience. Check it out in the video below:
To be clear, this is Windows 7, virtualized, running on a local virtual machine client accessed via the aSPICE KVM client for control. Windows is not being emulated (it's been done with older versions).
Back in June, Google announced Android was destined to gain 64-bit support in the coming L release. A few weeks later, Revision 10 of the Native Development Kit (NDK) was posted with support for the three 64-bit architectures that would be able to run the new version of Android: arm64-v8a, x86_64, and mips64. As we close in on the official release of Android L, Google has updated the NDK to revision 10b and added an emulator image developers can use to prepare their apps to run on devices built with Intel's 64-bit chips.
Today, the CEO of Unity Technology David Helgason announced a collaboration with Intel to add x86 support to the company's wildly popular Unity 3D game engine. The news was presented during the keynote speech at the Unite 2014 game developers conference alongside announcements for upcoming support of Samsung's Smart TVs and Google's Android TV.
Helgason delivered the information pretty quickly, but it's not the kind of thing that requires a long introduction.
Both Unity 4 and 5 will be updated to include support for Intel Core and Intel Atom-based mobile processors. This will allow developers to build native variants of their games for ARM and x86 targets with very little effort.