Android KitKat’s ART Runtime To Make Apps Run Faster
Gabriel Roşu / 5 years ago
Android 4.4 KitKat appears to come with a special feature that will help with the execution of programs on android devices. The key features it brings is faster and more efficient execution of apps, better battery life and a more fluid experience for users.
ART, which stands for Android Runtime, handles app execution in a fundamentally different way from Dalvik, the former runtime process on android handsets. The current runtime relies on a Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler to interpret bytecode, a generic version of the original application code. In a manner of speaking, apps are only partially compiled by developers, then the resulting code must go through an interpreter on a user’s device each and every time it is run. The process involves a lot of overhead and isn’t particularly efficient, but the mechanism makes it easy for apps to run on a variety of hardware and architectures.
ART is set to change this process by pre-compiling that bytecode into machine language when apps are first installed, turning them into truly native apps. This process is called Ahead-Of-Time (AOT) compilation. By removing the need to spin up a new virtual machine or run interpreted code, startup times can be cut down immensely and ongoing execution will become faster, as well.
At present, Google is treating ART as an experimental preview, something for developers and hardware partners to try out before attempting to make it compatible with all devices and apps on the market.