At the recent Dart Developer Summit, a group of Google engineers unveiled a non-Java framework for Android apps. Based on Dart, Google’s in-house web development language, Sky, as the team at Google is calling it, promises to usher in a new era of fast and responsive Android apps.
The team at Google working on Sky says they hope that their language will one day enable all Android apps to run at 120 frames per second. It’s a bit of a forward-looking goal, since the majority smartphones on the market today don’t have 120 hertz displays.
That said, there are several other benefits to Dart-based apps that regular users will be able to take advantage of even without a 120Hz display. The most significant one is that Sky apps are served over HTTP. This means that apps built using Sky will be platform agnostic. They can run on Android, iOS or any other device that has access to Dart VM. Additionally, because they’re deployed from a server, Dart apps are easier to keep up to date. Developers simply upload the latest version of their app to a server, and then anytime a user interacts with the app they will automatically be using the latest version of it.
Of course, there are several drawbacks to depending so significantly on an HTTP server to deploy an app. The most significant one is that Dart apps cannot function without a connection to the Internet. They’re also slower to load initially because a smartphone is pulling the majority of the app’s data from a server. However, according to Ars Technica, both of these problems could be solved with generous use of caching.
Now, before anyone gets excited, even the Sky team admits there’s a lot of work to do on the language before its ready for regular use. “We’re still iterating on Sky heavily, which means the framework and underlying engine are both likely to change in incompatible ways several times,” says the team’s Github page. “But if you’re interested in trying out the system, this document can help you get started.”