Research project Cider allows unmodified iOS apps to run on Android

by: Bogdan PetrovanMay 13, 2014

cider ios apps android

Cider, an operating system compatibility layer, allows iOS applications to run natively on Android devices.

Developed by computer science students from Columbia University, Cider effectively tricks iOS apps into running on Android’s Linux kernel just as they would on Apple’s XNU kernel.

Quoting from the team’s recently published research paper, “Cider enhances the domestic operating system, Android, of a device with kernel-managed, per-thread personas to mimic the application binary interface of a foreign operating system, iOS, enabling it to run unmodified foreign binaries.” To achieve this, researchers used several binary compatibility techniques, including compile-time code adaptation, which allows unmodified iOS code to run on the host Android, and diplomatic functions, which enable iOS apps to tap into domestic libraries to interact with the Android’s device hardware and software.

In the video above, a Nexus 7 (2012) modified to run Cider on top of Android is able to open and run both regular Android apps and iOS apps such as Yelp or Apple iBooks.

As a work in progress, Cider suffers from some limitations. Apps that rely on features like the phone’s camera, GPS module, or Bluetooth either don’t work or have limited functionality. Further work is required to enable these features.

While the team says Cider removes the need for resource-intensive virtualization techniques, there’s still significant lag when running iOS apps. According to the research paper, this is due to the incomplete OpenGL ES implementation, but additional work could solve the issues.

For now, Cider is a prototype developed as a research project. The team has not announced any plans to continue the project, but cross-platform app compatibility is an area of intense interest, especially in the enterprise sector, making it possible for Cider to eventually become a full-fledged product.

  • Venky

    Nice, suck on that Apple. Closed ecosystem bwahahahahaha…

    • RarestName

      I will wait for the day I can run Tweetbot 2 on my Moto G :)

      • mhenriquecd

        is a closed platform but has several items from open source OpenGL ES as the freebsd kernel modified, which is a cousin of the linux kernel used in Android

        It certainly eases

  • Gurpreet

    lol in the end of video

    • Jesse Afolabi

      mmm-mehhhhhhh! lol

  • MasterMuffin

    Just few days ago I said to someone that making an iOS emulator that plays iOS apps is almost impossible :D I just wonder how would you get the apps legally to your Android phone?

    • Alex James Simon

      Your right this would probably be deemed illegal, if it gained popularity. Its basically an iOS emulator running under Android. If Nintendo thinks playing a SNES game on a emulator is illegal, I have no doubt apple would make this illegal, Im sure they could ban your iTunes account if they found you were downloading stuff to an unknown device. Remember at one point in time they were banning jailbroken iPhones so I have no doubt they could figure out that you were not using one of their devices.

      • MasterMuffin

        No my left!

        I hope you’ll get that :D

        • Alex James Simon

          I think I do lol :D

      • Iron

        No one can’t stop emulator, that’s for sure. If these guys don’t do it, someone else will, as far as hardware limitation goes. Companies had tried to stop psx & n64 emulator in the past, to no avail.

        Sure Apple can send cease and desist letter. But just wait until iOS emulator goes open source and spawn unlimited number of clones. Expect horde of iOS emulators incoming.

        • Iron

          whoops, I mean ‘no one can’, stupid autocorrect .. -_-

          • Alex James Simon

            Lol, I read it as that anyway, thing is Apple still would have control of iTunes, and they could ban anyone using a Android device downloading from iTunes. So iOS emulators could go viral, but whats the point if you can’t get the games and apps, on the other hand it would give apple much more revenue on apps and games. It wouldn’t keep people from buying iPhones either.

          • Matt Dowdy

            You could just download the apps legally from the app store on itunes on the PC and transfer the apps to your android device and then run them. Apple will never know and no piracy involved = win for everyone

    • RarestName

      You can technically “crack” your own apps on the iOS device.

      • MasterMuffin

        And that’s probably against 22 different parts in the 30+ page thing Apple forces you to agree with if you want to do anything

        • RarestName


        • Boonlumsion Piyapon

          Well it’s possible that Cider go to Play Store (and sale app like alternative store on android but sale ios app)

          This need developer to copy and press files to Cider Store. user might need other identification system or have to buy app again. and performance is still an issue. But it will help people who want to exit apple’s ecosystem.

          • MasterMuffin

            Apple will sue everyone. Your argument is invalid ;D

    • RanRu

      It sounds like this is being marketed as a tool for developers. Instead of devoting time and resources to a lengthy conversion process in order to get their iOS apps to work on Android, they can just plug their application into Cider and have the ability to instantly post it to the Play Store.

      Doubt that’ll stop Apple from trying to sue someone, somewhere, though.

      • MasterMuffin

        Everyone, everywhere

        • Michael Samsara

          and forever and a day.

  • A mí no me pagan por opinar

    FTR, the “Android Kernel” is a Linux Kernel. How about that?
    And if they don’t want/can’t go on with that project, they should release it open source.

  • Alex James Simon

    While I dislike the iPhone it would be nice to run iOS games on Android, only problems are I have no doubt this requires root which I don’t do. Plus Apple will probably shoot this down before it becomes a thing.

  • A Human

    Why would I want to?

    • namesib

      Because you will have access to all the good apps and games that are only available on iOS?

  • Michael Muyunda


  • namesib

    I’m sure Apple will put a stop to this.

  • Ryu

    Maybe I’ll finally be able to play tiny wings on android

    • Jérémy Castellano

      Tiny Wings, here I come !

  • SupahNin10doh

    That’s awesome. But I bet if they ever tried to release this to the public Apple would either throw so much money at these guys to discontinue the project, or threaten them with so much legal action as to where they’d never want to say “IOS” again.

  • da

    I hope they won’t die like iEmu ( Apple policy)

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    Oh, so Android will finally get a decent version of Tap Tap Revenge? About damn time

  • Hugo Oskarsson

    “But iOS has more apps”

  • Cal Rankin

    This is a great tool for developers to port their apps much more quickly. That is, the developers that Apple isn’t bribing.

  • Sonia

    Yay, this will be awesome!

  • Ivan Budiutama

    curious, will it run smoothly? I mean you need like 3-4x more than the native specification to run console games smoothly on PC using emulator. It’ll be very interesting to test them but in the end, native app still the best, and I’d rather have more developers develop their version of software (or app in “today” language) on Android, with ART getting mature, it would provide a very nice experience. Well it’s just me though
    Btw just read about fans rage on mac-rumor or something web (no I don’t follow them, seems Google Now thinks I will be interested on the news), They seems to be outrageous about the 5.5″ iPhone leaks, really? I mean they have 2 god damn version and they still getting outrageous? Like they are forced to use them or something? Really wonder how their reaction upon this “emulator” news.

  • Chileball

    Apple complaints and lawyers are coming..

  • Sal

    I smell a lawsuit coming….

  • itzvarma

    will apple ever let them release it.. NOoo :(

  • ty

    give me the download link for that :D

  • spatchy

    where can I get hold of this to beta test it?

  • Where can I download this?

  • donkeyhigh

    Seems to be dead. I’ve added their homepage to, and didn’t get any notifications about changes in ages. Now I’ve gotten 2,but they just say the page is empty. Which it is. They could at least have told us they cancelled the project, instead of just waiting for their domain to expire..