Google is working on a project to allow Android developers to write apps using Google’s in-house Dart web language, meaning that would-be developers can create native Android apps without having to write a single line of Java. This project, known internally as Sky, also enables some cool features like over-the-air app updates without the user having to install anything or update the application through the Play Store.
The presentation, which you can watch above (though it’s very, very dry), outlines how, like any other Android app, Sky apps have full access to Android’s various APIs, making them every bit as useful as a native app, and far more useful than the previous generation of web-apps. With Sky, the majority of an app’s code resides on the web, and so updating the installed user-base with new features is as easy as tweaking code on a server, and that code will fly out to users when their apps next check in.
Because of this, you might have guessed that these apps could work across platforms — yes, Google have thought of that too, mentioning iOS specifically during the presentation linked above. Of course, that’s not the only feature. Sky is also designed from the ground up to facilitate faster applications; its technically capable of producing a frame-rate of up to 120fps, though most smartphones couldn’t display that yet. In brief, this design means that even if the behind-the-scenes processing slows, the interface won’t.
At present, Sky apps require an internet connection to work; there doesn’t appear to be any local caching of code, but this seems like something that can be overcome in time. Server side support is cool, until you can’t reach the server… but in this connected age, it isn’t often a problem.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Sky is more than a flash in the pan, or whether it slowly fades away.