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ART vs Dalvik -- Is ART noticeably faster? [Video]

Does ART really provide a faster, smoother app launching experience when compared to Dalvik? A new video has hit the web that attempts to answer that question by pitting two Nexus 7 tablets against one other, one running Dalvik and the other running ART.
November 11, 2013

Android 4.4 KitKat is here, and with it folks are starting to get the very first taste of ART, the Android runtime destined to eventually replace the aging Dalvik.

As mentioned in a previous post, ART is designed to use ahead-of-time compilation, which means your apps are compiled in a ready-to-run state from the very first time you install them. The end result is that ART is said to launch apps much faster and without some of the lag issues found in Dalvik.

ART is still a work in progress, and is likely to get even better as Google continues work on optimizing the new runtime.

How much faster? While results may vary depending on the app, many initial reports claim ART launches apps as much as 50% quicker. Of course there are some skeptics out there that suggest this could just be a placebo affect — that ART users expect the experience to be faster, so therefore they believe it is.

Hoping to better demonstrate the difference between ART and Dalvik, Reddit user lodc created a short video that shows two Nexus 7 (2013) tablets both running Android 4.4 KitKat ROM. The only difference between the tablets is that one is set to run Dalvik with the other running ART.

The video then shows Photoshop Touch being launched at the same time on both devices, several times in a row. Each time ART came out the champion, even if it’s only by a second or two. Obviously one video doesn’t give us the entire picture, but it does certainly led credence to the idea is that ART really is faster, even if there isn’t a colossal difference.

The key here is that ART is still a work in progress, and is likely to get even better as Google continues work on optimizing the new runtime. Google has made it clear that ART isn’t quite ready for primetime, so it would be unfair to truly judge ART just by the performance we are seeing with KitKat. Still, even in it’s current form, ART shows a lot of promise.

Should you run ART on Android 4.4 KitKat, or are you better off waiting?

Honestly it comes down to what kind of Android user you are. If you are the type that already runs unstable ROMs and BETAs, ART might be for you.

The important thing to remember is that ART is still an experimental runtime and there is a growing list of apps that are confirmed to currently not work with the runtime. Just to name a few, we have Call of Duty: Strike Force, Pandora, WhatsApp, Titanium Backup and Kingdom Rush.

So how about it, have you managed to test out ART yet? If so, what do you think?