The next release of Android could see Google's in-development runtime, ART, made the default used by the mobile OS. It all boils down to a code commit made to the Android source on January 28, that strongly suggests the switch has been flipped — so to speak.
In simple terms, the runtime upon which Android apps run determines how the Java bytecode is compiled and executed. While Dalvik, the current runtime, used a just-in-time approach — compiling bytecode on the fly — ART compiles the code into a native binary during installation, which should result in apps starting and running faster.
Benchmarks conducted by Android Police's Coby Toombs show ART's floating-point performance is noticeable better than Dalvik's, with gains averaging 20 per cent.
Of course, ART can be enabled now on devices running Android by hitting up the developer options — all this change means is that those not well-versed in fiddling with their phones will benefit from the runtime's improvements. It also signals that Google is comfortable enough with the project's stability to expose it to the world at large in a future OS update.