Little T in the Cog linux

Archive for January 2013

Will we ever see Android apps on the N9?


Even before the Nokia N9 was launched back in September 2011 there was talk about getting Android apps to run on it. This isn't actually as crazy as it sounds - both the N9 and Android use a Linux kernel and share a lot of the same userland, only starting to differ once you go up the stack a bit (Android uses the derived-from-Java Dalvik VM whereas the N9 runs MeeGo/QT).

With all the buzz around the new phone being dampened by the fact that there would probably never be another one (due to Nokia jumping into bed with Microsoft) people wondered if there would ever be many apps for the device - queue a bunch of companies saying that they would get the Dalvik VM (and associated libraries) up and running on it so that potentially the whole Android catalogue would be available for it. Some months later several companies boasted that they had it working, but they had no interest selling it to end users, preferring to sell their solutions directly to the OEMs (and it was extremely unlikely that Nokia would be happy putting that on the N9 seeing as they were winding it down at that stage). There was talk of an open source solution but it never really got very far and it looked like it was to remain a pipe dream.

Then in June 2012 OpenMobile put up an interesting blog post showing Android apps running on a MeeGo tablet which generated a lot of feedback with people asking about the N9, so much so that just under 2 weeks later OpenMobile posted:

"Thank you all for your comments and kind words! Our engineering team at OpenMobile is diligently working on multiple platforms, including ACL for the Nokia N9 MeeGo Smartphone. Thank you for your interest in ACLâ„¢. Keep checking back to the blog for further updates and information as we are able to release it!"

Well, that was back in June 2012, half a year ago, and though they have shown many demos of their ACL ("Application Compatibility Layer") technology running on different devices there has been no further mention of the N9, and as time goes by it looks increasingly unlikely that they'll ever release anything for it (though apparently Jolla's "Sailfish" OS will use the technology and it is also based on MeeGo so there is still some hope that the engineering effort can somehow be used on the N9 too) and the Android on N9 port I talked about when i first got my N9 is still missing some important features (such as the ability to make a phone call and use the camera) so it looks like running Android apps on the N9 is to remain a pipe dream for a bit longer (forever?).

Does this mean I'm unhappy I bought the N9? Hell no! I'm still really happy with my decision to buy the phone, even though I knew it was end-of-life when I got it. I still haven't seen a phone that I'd rather be using, and until the manufacturers (other than Apple of course!) decide to release a flagship phone at around the 4" size then I'm unlikely to switch any time soon as I'm not a fan of how large the phones are getting now.