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Dalvik Virtual Machine to be Replaced By ART in Next Version of Android

kit kat kitkat logo

It’s (almost) official: Google will eschew the Dalvik virtual machine for ART in the next release of Android. Commits in the AOSP master branch point to the removal of Dalvik entirely.

What does that mean, exactly? Dalvik was a useful stop-gap for Google in the early days of Android, when the team had to formulate a solution for running apps on a myriad of hardware. The virtual machine essentially acted as a translator of sorts, interpreting code to run on different architectures.

ART, or Android Runtime, is a much more efficient solution. Instead of “translating” code, it compiles it natively for each device. That comes with the disadvantages of slower install times and larger install files, but the benefits of slightly increased battery life and more responsive apps.

ART was integrated into Android last year with the release of Android 4.4 “Kit Kat.” It can be enabled on devices running that firmware and above, but many apps aren’t completely compatible with it yet. Hopefully developers will update their apps by the time ART becomes the new standard.

Via: XDA Developers
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  • Roger W Turner

    ART was only “integrated into Android … with … 4.4″ for certain devices. N7/2012 gets all 4.4.x but doesn’t have an ART option.

    • HarvesterX

      Easily enabled by a build.prop edit or from command line

  • FknTwizted

    is this able to be enabled on the verizon samsung note 2 with 4.4.2?

  • Flexo

    “and larger install files” Should be smaller, because is the source code I guest :)

    • HarvesterX

      No, because a single byte code as we use with dalvik represents many actions in natively compiled code.

    • mike_s123

      No. “if variable_x >= variable_y then procedure_z” compiles to just a few bytes. I can’t think of a single example of object being larger than source. Even with the traditional “Hello, world!”, you need to consider the source of all the called libraries when making a comparison.

  • Fooer

    Looks like that’s the path all mobile is going now. MS is doing something similar with their upcoming .Net native compiler for mobile apps

  • burkett375

    Trying not to be picky, but it’s bugging me. If you replace the word “myriad” with “many” and it doesn’t sound right, then you shouldn’t use it.

    • HUEHUEHUEHUEHUE

      Recent criticism of the use of myriad as a noun, both in the plural form myriads and in the phrase a myriad of, seems to reflect a mistaken belief that the word was originally and is still properly only an adjective. However, the noun is in fact the older form, dating to the 16th century. The noun myriad has appeared in the works of such writers as Milton (plural myriads) and Thoreau (a myriad of), and it continues to occur frequently in reputable English. There is no reason to avoid it.

    • Daistaar

      Not true. Myriad can be quantitive and it should be since it represents a hypothetical numerical value. You can have “a myriad of something…” or a number of something. Both “A myriad of swords” and “a myriad swords” are correct. :)

  • TopXKiller
  • KChristainsen

    How do you enable ART? Stock GS3

    • Jason Kahn

      Only Nexus, and GPE devices, Excluding Nexus 7(2012)

      You can get it in ROMs, but my belief is that samsungs own apps do not yet fully support it.

      If you have a ROM it will be under developer setting, one word of warning if you enable it, app sizes grow by around 10%-20%

      • KChristainsen

        ahhh got ya, thanks for the reply

        • DanPatrickFlores

          I have a Motorola Razr Maxx HD which came out the same year as the GS3. Check under the developer options, because I was able to switch to ART after upgrading to KitKat

          • KChristainsen

            No option under developer options unfortunately. I already checked.

          • needa

            that is a moto thing. i think they do it for all of their kit kat devices. i know the x has the option.

      • Aooga

        It’s an option on the S5 so not only Nexus and GPE.

  • hkklife

    Larger install files? Perfect for Samsung’s next three generations of devices which will all feature 16GB of storage with ~9.2GB available out of the box for installing apps! As well as the forthcoming LTE version of the Moto E w/ microSD slot and 2GB of internal storage!

    • wh1te_mag1c

      The sizes of app on Android are kind of irrelevant when compared to the size of media files (e.g. photos or movies).

      • hkklife

        I know but if you are a gamer, some of those new 3D titles & ports of PC titles eat up a sizable amount of space.

        • wh1te_mag1c

          Touche. Thankfully I am no longer a gamer, but they sure take up lots of space.

      • Kazahani

        The problem he is describing is that on phones that support external SD, there is only a small amount of overall storage available for app installs. Media storage is a non-issue on these devices because you can store it all on the external card.

      • velocipedes

        Not entirely true. My apps are using 5.3GB of space out of 8.3GB used space right now. Pictures and videos are only taking up 900MB.

  • charesa39

    Saw this yesterday. Looks like I’ll be patiently waiting until Xposed is finally compatible with ART before I update. Can’t live without my Gravity Box!

    • Suicide_Note

      ^^ This! ^^

    • grumpyfuzz

      yes you can. what did you do before gravity box…? perhaps a custom rom?

    • j

      This. I must have the ability to revoke individual permissions or I won’t upgrade. That simple these days.

    • HarvesterX

      Thanks to apktool mobile, I’ve been slowly phasing xposed mods out by manually implementing as much as I can… So I can enable ART on my G2 as all the apps I use it we than xposed run just fine

  • BRIAN MUENTER

    Just looking at m8 in the developer options. I can switch to ART. Will I notice a difference? Or should I do it?… and should I even worry about it?

    • cadtek91

      You will if apps you use are not compatible with ART.

      • BRIAN MUENTER

        I’m running action launcher and I know that developer is pretty good about stuff…so we’ll give it a shot!!

        • Pedro

          Just remember you did that when you see some apps start to FC. Threes, anyone?

  • Shane Redman

    I’ve been back and forth about switching to ART, is it really worth it right now?

    • Jason Kahn

      Hit or miss, I have run into a bunch of Apps, Mainly games that don’t support it yet. I am betting that if the next version of Android switches to ART developers will update eventually

      • Shane Redman

        Thanks for the info. I may give it a try and switch one night. I know it reboots your phone and takes a while to reconfigure everything.

  • https://plus.google.com/+MichaelBond codemonkey85

    My understanding is that the apps with compatibility issues shouldn’t need to update their apps for ART, but rather, the issues they’ve been having were due to the incomplete nature of the new runtime. So I hope this means the code currently in AOSP is complete enough for those issues to go away!

  • guest
    • Sergey

      So? Is it a crime to report it here as well?

    • cadtek91

      Not everyone who visits Droid Life visits XDA.

    • ToddAwesome

      Lighten up Francis.

  • Menger40

    Aww, man. The only reason I’m on Dalvik still is because I like an old game that doesn’t support ART and probably never will. A bunch of older apps will probably get permanently left behind by their developers.

    • Mike

      What game? Im concerned Shadowgun:Deadzone wont work

      • Menger40

        The game is Aftermath XHD. It’s a fun little zombie shooter, but it’s 3rd person instead of 1st and seems to be a like-it or hate-it kind of game judging by other reviewers’ opinions. I like it a lot.

        • grumpyfuzz

          probably galaxy nexus fault since it never got kitkat officially.

  • Alan Paone

    very excited to 1-star a bunch of apps on June 26

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  • r0l

    Threes! Get on that $hit already.

  • http://www.about.me/kendallseabury Kendall Seabury

    So will this finally silence the people in the play store leaving one star reviews because “YOUR APP DOESN’T WORK ON ART!!!!” even thought they’re using an experimental runtime not designed for daily use?

    • r0l

      No, then they’ll complain it doesn’t operate with their xposed mod.

      • Justtyn Hutcheson

        Or that their Xposed mod screws up the app, because it removes or changes some function, and the app developer should *totally* fix that.

    • sagisarius

      Ha, no, I think it will be replaced with.. “I just got an awesome new phone and this dumb app totally doesn’t work! It’s so lame!”. Except, you know, with way more spelling errors and missing vowels.

    • HarvesterX

      No because it’s super easy to update your apps so ART is supported (for majority of apps that is)

  • JSo

    As long as Xposed eventually gets ART computability, I’ll be fine.

    • Rodeojones000

      The developer has an ART compatible version in the works. In the alpha testing phase now.

      • JSo

        Yeah, I read that. He’s mostly waiting for it to be official from Google. Then he will get working on it more.

        • Justtyn Hutcheson

          Don’t know how much more official it is going to get….

          • Taylor Abrahamson

            It’s not that he’s waiting for it to be official, he’s waiting for google to stop committing huge refactors of the ART code base. It’s official, but google is still making big changes, and those big changed break the xposed code. So yes he can keep fixing his code to work with it each time google makes a change, or he can just wait out the big code changes for a bit until it’s much more locked down.

          • JSo

            To me, official means making it the default runtime.

          • Justtyn Hutcheson

            ART is a brand new runtime. Even if it is deemed ready for public release, there are going to be significant changes regularly made over the next few years at least as it is refined and optimized, because most apps will continue to run just fine despite the changes. Only relatively low-level apps like Xposed will be affected, which will likely tick off many in the XDA community, but otherwise result in a resounding “meh” from everyone else.

            It is even possible that the only reason Dalvik’s code was so “stable” is because they were spending as few resources maintaining it as possible, knowing that it was going to be deprecated soon.

          • Retro

            To be fair he said this back in February on Reddit (AMA) not yesterday…

          • Justtyn Hutcheson

            Sorry, the post I replied to made it sound like a recent comment.

      • sagisarius

        Yeah, I suspect it will be a months or so between announcement and general rollout anyway, so he’s got a little while.

      • grumpyfuzz

        I’m guessing art will break some modules as well?

    • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

      What’s Xposed?

      • JSo

        Is that sarcasm? lol

        • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

          Nah I don’t dabble in the XDA life as much as I used to…My N5 isn’t even rooted lol. I’m just out of the loop.

          • Ray

            Xposed is god sent but if your not rooted well it’s a long story lol.

          • Aaron C

            Allows you to install and run modules that customize the OS even further than your favorite custom ROM. :)

        • Fooer

          Answer the question :P

    • Boblank84

      i read a while back that the xposed dev does have it working with art but is waiting until a version where art is default to make the switch.