Developer pulls Java out of Android

Against the background of Oracle and Google’s legal ruckus over the latter’s usage of Java, a platform developer has decided to sidestep the whole argument and ported Android to C#.

When Google built Android, the application environment was designed in Java, the language first developed by Sun Microsystems and now owned by Oracle. But in building the virtual machine called Dalvik that actually runs the application inside the host OS, Oracle claims that Google infringed upon some of its Java-related patents.

The court case is grinding on and could get very inconvenient and expensive for Google. But in the meanwhile, a cross platform developer called Xamarin has spent nearly a year porting much of the Android foundations to C#, an alternative object-oriented programming language developed by Microsoft. The big difference is that C# and the .Net runtime are covered by strong patent commitments preventing Microsoft from suing anybody that implements the technology.

As hardened developers of an alternative .Net runtime called Mono, the guys at Xamarin have been replacing Java in Android with C#. The result, which Xamarin has made available this week, is a C# version of the Android OS called XobotOS.

However, the developer said that XobotOS is only a “research project” and it does not intend to maintain it as a standalone project. So the OS is not likely to make it any further than the developer community any time soon. Xamarin however, said its research has yielded many tools necessary to replace some chunks of Java code with C# code where performance is critical and when C# can offer better solutions than Java has. The result is that much of the hard work is done should anyone want to fully develop a Java-free and potentially patent-infringement –free version of the Android OS.


One comment

  1. Avatar Immo Huneke 02/05/2012 @ 2:38 pm

    Patent protection goes further than the VM and programming language. Vendors who have implemented Android on their devices have been sued by Microsoft (with varying degrees of success) for infringement of patents that include the approaches to internationalisation, virtual keyboards and much more besides. If someone just reimplements the Android design in a different language, the ported code would be equally “guilty” of these alleged infringements.

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