I love Android, and I think its apps are great—the polish that came with the Ice Cream Sandwich update truly put Android design on the map. That being said, one of the more frequent complaints from iOS fans continues to be that apps just "run smoother" and "look better" on iOS than they do Android.
Add to that iOS exclusivity with apps like Amazon Instant Video and Facebook Paper, and it's clear that the iOS versus Android "debate" is probably not ending anytime soon. That is, until Cider makes its way to Android.
Borne out of the Software Systems Library at Columbia University, a six-member team has created "an operating system compatibility architecture that can run applications built for different mobile ecosystems, iOS or Android, together on the same smartphone or tablet."
You can check out the technical breakdown of the technology, but essentially, Cider works by:
- Allowing foreign code (iOS) to be reused on a domestic kernel (Android's Linux kernel)
- Allowing foreign apps to utilize domestic libraries for things like sensors and UI interfaces
According to Jeremy Andrus, lead on the Cider project, the technology copies all foreign code and convinces the iOS apps that that they're running on XNU (Apple's OS kernel) instead of the Android Linux kernel.
Cider isn't without its limitations, as use of certain sensors and radios are currently not implemented, but the team plans to work through these issues. "Cider is definitely a work in progress, and we plan to continue research on the project," Andrus said.
But as it stands now, and is clearly visible in the demo, Cider has a ton of potential. Of course, Apple could see this and work on killing the project dead in its tracks by implementing new app libraries or structures, but this proof-of-concept is pretty spectacular as it is. And hopefully, it'll be coming to our Android devices soon.