ART is the replacement for the Dalvik vm which up until Android L was the platform that Android apps ran on. ART stands for the Android Run Time and has the aim of replacing Dalvik in order to improve the experience for apps running on Android.
For the last two years Google has been working on ART as an effort to fix the current problems in the Android system, most users will be familiar with applications behaving badly or lags and glitches for no apparent reason, this was more common when scrolling through application content.
The problem with Dalvik was that it used some technology called JIT which stands for just in time. This means that the applications code is compiled just before it will be needed and depending on the application this can cause the jitter and application crashing that was very common as the Dalvik VM can’t keep up. This is where the new ART runtime comes in as this compiles the code ahead of time so therefore it is ready when it is needed and stops the crashes and jitter.
The problem with the ART is that it takes a little bit more system resources in order to properly do its job and therefore low end devices will not really benefit from ART. Higher end devices on the other hand should see huge improvements in application stability and performance.
Another nail in the coffin for low end devices is storage, these devices tend not to have much internal storage and it quickly becomes full after installing a few apps. ART will require more storage space per app for application data this means that lower end devices will be even more limited than before with regards to the amount of applications that they can handle at any one time. Moving applications to external storage may help here but on stock ROM’s not all of the data for the application is able to be moved without breaking the functionality of the app.
Although ART is new stuff and requires a lot of work in order to get it ready to completely replace Dalvik, some users have enabled ART on their Android 4.4 based devices and have reported that generally apps run a lot smoother and the whole system seems to run a lot better. So when ART is properly released with Android L we are looking at some pretty good changes.
Battery life is something else that will benefit from ART as the device isn’t working all the time and therefore uses less power, as a result of this the battery life of the device should see improvements which is something all users ask for.
The problem now though is getting all of the apps to run with ART, while most apps work flawlessly some apps refuse to work at all and some are a bit fragile. So as the release date for Android L moves closers we can only hope that Google puts the last finishing touches on ART and also that app developers make sure that their applications are compatible with the new run time.
If Google and the application developers manage to pull this off then we could be looking at the most ground breaking changes to Android since it was released.
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