Android Runtime: A Simple Hack to Make Your Phone More Fast and Last Longer

Android 4.4 KitKat was launched on October 31. It introduced something essential but not widely reported. Its name is ART, and it was released with the Android 4.4.2 update in early December. What is ART? This revolutionary feature will revolutionize the way Android phones work. ART stands to represent 'Android RunTime.' It is responsible for running the Android apps. ART replaces Dalvik, named after the Icelandic village where Dan Bornstein's ancestors resided. This task has been performed since Android was first introduced. As you might imagine, Dalvik was becoming a bit old and wasn't very good initially. Two significant benefits will be gained by giving it the boot.

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1. Increased speed

This is why it happens.

Dalvik uses the "Just-in-time" (JIT) process, which means that it must convert app source code into executable programs every time it starts. Android apps must undergo a conversion every time they start.

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On the other hand, ART uses the 'Ahead of time' (AOT process) and compiles (aka does conversion) when an application is installed. This method can double the speed of apps, which can dramatically impact your phone's performance.

2. Battery Life is better

One of the benefits of AOT processing is that app launch takes less time, increasing your battery life. Although you won't notice any noticeable difference in your phone's performance, standby applications that run in the background can make your phone more efficient.

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Developer reports suggest a 30% increase in idle standby. However, this number can be difficult to quantify due to many variables. Based on my experience with ART using a Nexus 5, I estimate it to be closer to 20%. This isn't something to laugh at. It will continue to improve and refine.

The downsides

There are some negative aspects to switching to ART.

1. It requires more storage

To be more specific, your installed apps will consume more storage - approximately 10% to 20%. The reason is that the pre-compiled apps that allow ART to run quickly and efficiently must be installed. This makes them larger than Dalvik's on-demand method. This could take up a significant amount of space if you have many apps. They will also take longer to install.

2. Some apps may not be compatible

Android 4.4.2 has fixed a lot of incompatibility problems (including with mega apps like WhatsApp) so that 99% of Android users are now compatible with ART. MX Player is the only app that I have found incompatible.

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Update: Now fully compatible. You can find a complete list of compatible apps with ART here. I have yet to come across any apps that aren't compatible with ART on 4.4.2. It is possible to return to Dalvik if you find an app that does not work with ART on 4.4.2.

How can I get it?

You will need to have Android 4.4 installed. This restricts you to Google's Nexus series or a custom ROM on a rooted phone. However, this should change rapidly as significant handset manufacturers have pledged to update their leading handsets to Android 4.4 by Q1. KitKat is more compatible with budget phones than the previous Android versions, so it should be the Android version of preference for budget phones.

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Android 4.4.x is still to make ART the default setting, so here's how you can enable it.

  1. Navigate to Settings and then to 'About phone
  2. Tap the "Build Number" repeatedly until you receive the announcement that you are a developer
  3. You can go back to settings and see a new section called 'Developer options.
  4. Change 'Select runtime to 'Use Art' in Developer Options

The phone will restart and convert any existing apps to ART compatible between 10-20 minutes. During this process, you'll be able to see the progress. All your app data remains safe. Select 'Use Dalvik' in the Developer options if you want to change back. It takes approximately 10 minutes, and no app data is lost.


You should be proud of those who stick with ART. You have joined an exclusive club: Android's future.

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Hope this article is useful to you, thanks for reading.