It’s fair to say that Android went through some disorderly years in the beginning. The speed of development was frantic as the operating system grew in a unprecedented rate. An as-yet undetermined future led to choices that were made to conform to existing hardware and architectures, the particular available development tools, as well as the basic need to ship working code on tight deadlines. Now that the OS provides matured, the Android team has been giving more focus on some of the components that don’t have aged quite as well. One of the oldest pieces of the Google android puzzle is the Dalvik runtime, the software responsible for making most of your apps run. That’s why Google’s developers have been doing work for over 2 years on ARTWORK, a replacement for Dalvik that promises faster and more efficient execution, better battery life, as well as a more fluid experience.
Dalvik. The current runtime relies on a Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler to translate bytecode, a generic edition of the original application program code. In a manner of speaking, applications are only partially compiled by programmers, then the resulting code must go through an interpreter on the user’s device each and every time it is run. The process involves lots of overhead and isn’t particularly efficient, but the mechanism makes it easy for apps to run on the variety of hardware and architectures. ART is set to change this process by pre-compiling that bytecode into machine language whenever apps are first installed, turning them into truly native apps. This process is known as Ahead-Of-Time (AOT) compilation. By removing the need to spin up a new virtual machine or even run interpreted code, startup times can be cut down greatly and ongoing execution can become faster, as well.
At present, Google is usually treating ART as an experimental preview, something for programmers and hardware partners to try out. Google’s own introduction of ART clearly warns that changing the default runtime can risk breaking applications and causing system instability. ART may not be completely ready regarding prime time, but the Google android team obviously feels like it should see the light of time. If you’re interested in trying out ARTWORK for yourself, go to Settings -> Developer options -> Select runtime . Activating it requires a reboot to switch from libdvm. to libart. so , but be ready to wait about 10 minutes within the first boot-up while your installed apps are prepared for your new runtime. Warning: Do not try this with the Paranoid Android (or various other AOSP) build right now. It comes with an incompatibility with the current gapps package that causes rapid ramming, making the interface useless.
Bart Tiemersma for his contributions!