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Google is experimenting with Dart to create faster, smoother Android apps
A group of Google developers is working on Sky, a Dart-based “experimental, high-performance UI framework for mobile apps.”
The majority of Android apps are written in Java, but Sky makes use of Dart, an open-source web programming language developed and promoted by Google. The goal of Sky is to allow the creation of faster apps that can run on any platform and can make use of better web integration for a better user experience.
Fast, smooth apps should be the norm in our day and age, but unfortunately not all Android apps attain the 60fps gold standard at which animations are perceived as smooth. According to its creators, Sky makes it possible to create apps that consistently run at 120fps. The team used Dart on Android to create this simple demo app that renders entire frames every 1.2 milliseconds, much lower than the 8 milliseconds required to hit 120fps. But even complicated apps should be able to fit within the 8 milliseconds limit.
In order to hit this impressive frame rate, the “jank-free” Sky prioritizes the UI over other processes, meaning the app should stay smooth when it works heavily in the background.
Sky works on top of the Dart virtual machine so Sky apps can work on Android, but also on other operating systems that have a Dart VM. And because Dart is primarily a web app language, Android apps made with Sky have most of their code stored on a web server, which makes it much easier to update them: instead of updating code on every device, developers only need to update the code on the server.
For now, Sky is billed as an experiment, but the project holds great promise. Ars Technica has a closer look at Sky and the possibilities it opens here.