With last fall’s release of Android 4.4 KitKat, Google introduced an experimental new runtime, ART. As opposed to the Dalvik virtual machine, ART promised speed improvements at the cost of storage space – or at least, that was the idea. In reality, the speed boosts could be hard to see, and compatibility issues that broke certain apps prevented ART from being a slam dunk. Nevertheless, the option has been there for users interested in trying it out. Lately, though, we’ve been seeing evidence suggesting that Google had improved ART to the point where it was getting ready to go mainstream, and we could be nearing the day when ART would replace Dalvik as Android’s default. It looks like that threshold has finally been reached, as a pair of AOSP changes overnight show the removal of Dalvik and instatement of ART.
Now granted, there can be a slight disconnect between AOSP commits and Google’s internal testing builds, but all signs point to this move to ART being a part of the next major Android platform release.
Those “teases” of Android 5.0 we talked about last week may have been a bit of a stretch, and a change like this happening so close to the start of I/O doesn’t necessarily seem like it would offer enough time for a formal introduction of ART’s new role to come together as a big conference announcement. Then again, considering how work on ART has been ongoing for months, Google may have seen this day coming well in advance, and could already have its ducks in a row; we’ll see for sure next week.