JAX London 2014: A retrospective
New Dalvik and Gingerbread Port

Android Apps on the iOS?

Jessica Thornsby

“We are focusing on Dalvik and hoping some contributors join to accelerate this porting.”

  • Benoît Lamarche

    After a computer science engineering degree, specialized in systems and languages, Benoît Lamarche took an internship in Texas Instruments. This is where he developed an interest for java and embedded targets, and met the future founders of FlexyCore. After a short spell at Streamezzo, who develop Rich Media solutions, he joined the newly created FlexyCore where he’s been for 3 years now. After working on iSpectrum (a java SDK for iPhone), he’s now the main developer of the In-The-Box project.

In-the-Box is a new open source project sponsored by FlexyCore, that aims to port Dalvik VM and Gingerbread Android APIs on top of iOS. Such a port would enable Android app developers to execute their applications on iOS. In this interview, JAXenter speaks to FlexyCore’s Benoît Lamarche, on this new project.

JAXenter: Can you give us an introduction to the In-the-Box project?

Benoit Lamarche: The “in the box” objective is a porting of Dalvik VM and Gingerbread Android APIs on top of iOS. It enables Android application developers to execute their Android application on iOS.

JAXenter: What is the relationship between iSpectrum and In-the-Box?

Benoit: Since September 2009, FlexyCore was commercializing a product named iSpectrum, a Java SDK for the iPhone. In March 2010 Apple restricted the use of non Apple development tools to create iOS apps, which meant some business troubles for iSpectrum. Thus, FlexyCore decided to focus on Android by setting up its Android accelerator product and doing the minimum work on iSpectrum – by keeping iSpectrum customer’s support contracts activity and maintaining iSpectrum compatible across new iOS SDK versions.

Even when in September 2010 Apple changed its iOS developer license and relaxed all restrictions on development tools to build iOS apps, FlexyCore kept its focus on its Android accelerator, maintaining iSpectrum evolutions at the minimum.

As FlexyCore improved their knowledge on Android, they established a new technology path to move iSpectrum to the next level with the challenge to “run an Android application on iOS devices”, and they decided to hold iSpectrum commercialization and setup this “in the box” open source project to make it happen

JAXenter: What technologies are at work in this project?

Benoit: Dalvik and the Gingerbread core APIs are written in C and C++, which we compile using Xcode. We’ve added a few iOS-specific things in Objective-C.

JAXenter: Moving forward, what are your plans for In-the-Box?

Benoit: We will try OpenGLES as soon as possible, but before this, we have to progress on the Dalvik VM port on iOS. After that, we have to port a part of UIKit in Java – this could be fast – and then, we could provide 3D APIs – could be even faster, because these are already done inside FlexyCore! But for now, we are focusing on Dalvik and hoping some contributors join to accelerate this porting.

FlexyCore is a French company founded in 2008 by Java experts from Texas Instruments and INRIA (French Research Center). With iSpectrum, they provide a full Java 1.5 compliant solution that allows you to develop in Java and debug NATIVE iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad application using Eclipse IDE. Then you ll find the next step in the answer to your question What is the relationship between iSpectrum and In-the-Box?

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