Cycada might let you run iOS apps in Android

Image credit: Wired

In today's Android roundup: Columbia develops a new system to run iOS apps on Android devices. Plus: Is the Motorola Shamu the first Android Silver phone? And Apple's parternship with IBM could be a big blow to Android


Android has lots of apps available in the Google Play store. But there are some apps that are only available for Apple's iOS devices that might have some appeal for Android users. The Columbia engineering site has an article from June about Cycada (formerly called Cider), a new system that might let you run iOS apps on your Android devices.

According to Columbia Engineering:

Working under the direction of Jason Nieh, professor of computer science at Columbia Engineering, five students—all PhD candidates—have developed Cider, a new system that can run iOS apps on an Android device for the first time. Their research was presented at the Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems earlier this spring.

“We came up with some novel techniques, compile-time code adaptation and diplomatic functions, that make it possible for the first time to run iOS apps natively on Android,” says Nieh, who also is a member of the Cybersecurity Center at the University’s Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering. “Users no longer need to be locked into one platform. Being able to write an app once and run it anywhere has been a long-sought-after goal and a very hard problem to solve.”

More at Columbia Engineering

Wow, I have to admit that I'm impressed with this news about Cycada and I'm not sure how I missed it when it was announced earlier this summer. But I have to wonder what Apple's lawyers are going to think about this. Apple is not known for of people messing with their business model and Cycada would certainly qualify in that regard. Apple does not want iOS apps to be available on other platforms, particularly Android.

I guess we'll have to wait to find out what Apple thinks of Cycada. In the meantime, it's certainly interesting news for Android users. I am not sure how many Android users actually want to run iOS apps in Android but the door may now be opening for them to do so. I noted that there were some very negative comments in the Reddit thread about Cycada, with some Android users wanting absolutely nothing to do with iOS.

Update: The YouTube video I included above was posted by one of the folks involved in the development of Cycada. Apparently, Apple has hired him so he is no longer involved in the project. So much for Apple needing its lawyers.

Here's the full text of his message:

"Thank you to everyone for your interest in my work! Unfortunately this technology is quite a bit more complicated than a simple .apk download - it involves system-wide changes including a modified Linux kernel.

I have started a job with Apple, and will not be continuing work on this project. The team at Columbia will probably be doing some follow up work, but I won't be involved from here on out."

So it doesn't sound like we'll be seeing Cycada available for everyday Android users anytime soon. Still, it's a very interesting technology and I hope we hear more about it later on.

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