With the release of Android 4.4 KitKat, we saw Google introduce a new virtual machine, giving users the opportunity to switch from the just-in-time compilation of the familiar Dalvik VM to one using ahead-of-time compilation, the Android Runtime ART. With KitKat, ART was added as a bit of a preview – it wasn’t the default VM, and while our experiments with it revealed a lot of promise, initial load time and the threat of compatibility issues were still factors that gave us pause. Hopefully Google has taken the past couple months to polish ART up a little, because some new evidence suggests it may soon be headed to prime time.
A recent commit to the AOSP reveals ART and Dalvik swapping places, and ART rising to take the role of Android’s default runtime.
To be clear, even with this change being made, there’s no telling exactly when the switch might propagate its way forward to a formal Android release; there’s clearly the potential that it could be incorporated into the next version we see, but Google’s a little unpredictable with how AOSP changes correspond to Android updates. In any case, we’re viewing this as a promising development; is a world of faster Android apps just around the corner for all its users?