Postgraduate researchers at Columbia University have developed innovative new software that enables Android and Apple apps to run on the same devices. Currently a prototype, the team have no plans for Cider to be a commercial product. However device manufacturers will be extremely interested in the news as Cider would enable Android gadget owners to have both Android and iOS apps on their phone or tablet.
Currently both Android and Apple users are forced to accept limitations of their platforms, for example, Android users cannot get apps that call for media in Apple iTunes and iOS gadget owners struggle to use Flash-based content. Cider is the first system to run unmodified iOS apps on non-Apple devices, although this stirs up a whole host of legal issues the project demonstrates that the device may become less important as interoperability grows over time.
Instead of using a technique known as virtualisation to get an application written for one operating system to run on another, the researchers have used an approach that involves deep linking the core or kernel of the Android operating system. This approach works on the stream of instructions passing through an Android device and alters only those relating to the iOS apps. An additional software helper provides some of the specialised data those apps require to work properly. Although the software is not perfect and there are many issues still to fix, it demonstrates real creativity by the developers.
Read more about the Cider project here.