The project, currently called “Sky,” would allow devs to build their apps without writing a single line of Java—the language typically used for Android apps—and enable new capabilities like over-the-air updates without requiring the user to install anything.
Like standard Android apps, Sky applications have full access to Android’s various APIs, making them far more useful than typical “web apps.” The big difference is the ability of developers to push out updates simply by updating the code on their own server. Because most of the code is hosted on the web, it’s also possible for platforms other than Android (the presenter mentioned iOS during a live demo in the video above) to run Sky apps.
That isn’t the only difference, though. Sky is also focused on creating faster applications, with Google’s engineers saying it’s possible to get up to 120 frames per second, though smartphones today couldn’t actually display such smooth animations anyway. Sky is designed to ensure that even if the behind-the-scenes processing in an app slows down, the interface doesn’t hang or skip frames.
Unfortunately, since the apps are served over the internet, there are some big downsides to the current version of Sky. For example, the demo application provided by Google is incapable of running without an internet connection. Problems like this can eventually be solved, but the heavy reliance on server-side support may make this plan less viable than it sounds.
Still, the idea is intriguing, and it will be interesting to see whether Google is able to pull it off.