Meet One of the Developers Aiming to Bring Peace to iOs and Android Users Everywhere

BY GreenBot Staff

Published 15 May 2014

Imagine a world where you don’t have to choose between Android or iOS. That’s the goal behind Cider, an operating system compatibility architecture developed by computer science students at Columbia University. The project makes iOS apps compatible with Android, even though apps from the two ecosystems are developed in entirely different coding platforms. “There are lots of great iOS apps that Android users simply cannot run,” wrote C. Andrus, a student working on the project, in an email interview. He notes that desktop applications have benefited from running on virtual machines on Mac or a Windows OS. Still, the mobile sphere doesn’t currently have the same kind of tools.
A diagram from the team’s official paper showcasing Cider displaying running iOS apps.

A team of six students leveraged that Android and iOS primarily run on ARM-based hardware. “We don’t have to worry so much about coding languages used to write the software because we simply run the binaries from iOS,” said Andrus. He explained how the emulation works:
Blending the two OS happens through a custom Android app we call the “Cideress.” This standard Android app receives events such as input, accelerometer, or app lifecycle start/stop notifications and forwards those to the iOS app. We also convince the iOS app that its device screen is the standard Android application window given to the Ciders. This gives the iOS app Android facilities such as screenshots and recent app list entries for free.
The prototype, seen in the video below, runs on the Asus-manufactured Nexus 7 tablet running Android 4.3, with its libraries, services, and configuration files loaded from iOS 5.1. Andrus says that regardless of the OS integrations used, it doesn’t require any particular version of either platform to work.

Andrus added that he hopes the project helps spur more research into cross-platform compatibility in the mobile world. “Mobile computing has become a huge part of our lives. Consumers deserve to maximize the technological benefits without carting two or more devices around.”