Android 4.4 KitKat’s ART and App Compatibility
Back when Android 4.4 KitKat was released a little over two weeks ago, we broke the news on a new and “hidden” runtime compiler known as ART. Rather than using the traditional DEX files used by Dalvik, ART uses OAT files and an associated converter dex2oat. Moreover, the new runtime compiler eschews Dalvik’s Just-in-Time compiler for Ahead-of-Time compilation for theoretically better performance (at the expense of some storage space and longer app install times).
Preliminary benchmarks have been all across the board. Some applications show dramatic gains of almost double the speed, some (particularly GPU-intensive tasks) show slight decreases in speed. But overall, the net effect seems to be positive—when it works. And unfortunately, that’s the biggie: when it works. Up until now, there has been no easy way to know if your favorite apps will work on ART other than actually trying them. Unfortunately, though, this is a rather time consuming process because in order to switch from Dalvik to ART, you must reboot and wait for all of the OAT files to be generated. This is no big deal if you only have the built-in apps and a few others. But if you’re running hundreds of apps, this will take quite some time.
Thankfully, XDA Senior Member bippi79 created a fantastic resource website that details various applications and their compatibility with the new runtime compiler. He also goes into detail about ART, what it means, and how it can benefit you if your applications are compatible.
To learn more, make your way over to the original post for more details on ART, and visit the compatibility list to find out if your favorite apps will work. And if you know about the compatibility of additional apps not included in the list, send bippi79 a PM with the application name and information regarding compatibility.
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