Many of the standard Android apps that everyone uses were created with the programming language called Java. There are some other options, such as Apache Cordova and Mono for Android, but Java is the main way that developers create apps. However, now a team at Google is working on an alternative called Sky, and it can deliver 120 frames per second in terms of graphics and animation.
Future Android apps could be based on “Sky”
Sky is based on something called Dart, a custom web scripting language that came from Chrome’s development team. It was intended to make development of complicated applications faster and more manageable, but also provide higher performance and the ability to be distributed as compiled code (which is faster). Sky now takes this further by packaging apps that run outside a conventional browser.
The team behind Sky aims to deliver 120 frames per second (FPS), double the 60 FPS achievable by most mobile apps today. This means every frame must be draw every 8ms, but applications they have developed are already achieving speeds of just 1.2 milliseconds with lots of headroom to spare. But the rendering speed isn’t the only requirement to keep the Android apps smooth and responsive. There can also be a delay from system calls, but the Sky team is trying to over come this by designing it to avoid holding the apps up in those circumstances.
Since Dart was intended to run on a number of operating systems within the Chrome browser, it is supposedly very portable and platform agnostic. That means Sky apps will be able to run anywhere that Dart runs. Android is the first target of course, but iOS (iPhone, iPad, etc) and Windows might even be able to run those apps in the future.
Sky is still in the early stages, and won’t replace Java for the foreseeable future, but it does show a lot of promise. There’s a demo project already on the Google Play Store and it’s very fast. Developers that want to play around with Sky can pick up the source from the ‘Github’ repository (don’t worry, developers will know what that is, even if most of us have never heard of it).
In any case, if it represents the future of Android, then all of us can look forward to additional speed and smoother animations in the not-too-distant future.