This Dev Is Working on a Way to Run Android Apps on Ubuntu Phone


I’m writing about this way too early, but I figured it may help stoke a few fading hearts among the Ubuntu Phone faithful in light of recent news.

Ubports developer (and all round awesome dude) Marius Grispgård has revealed that he’s working on a way to run Android apps on Ubuntu Phone.

No, you haven’t misread that. I did say it.

Android apps on Ubuntu Phone. It’s a long-held want of many, right? It’s that thing that some folks see as a sure-fire way to help Ubuntu Phone gain traction in an Android-first world.

Android Compatibility Layer

Well, Gripsgård’s efforts reuse the open-source Android-compatability layer ‘sfdroid‘, which is used in community ports of Jolla’s Sailfish OS. This layer allows Sailfish  OS to run (some) Android apps alongside native Qt-based Sailfish apps.

To get it work on Ubuntu Marius has created a ‘a hook’ into SurfaceFlinger (the Android display server) to allow to window content to be drawn in Mir (the ‘new’ Ubuntu display server).

‘This whole ‘Android on Ubuntu Phone’ stuff is still a work in progress’

Is it a silly idea with Ubuntu Personal looming?

Gripsgård doesn’t think so: “It’s not really a silly idea when people can use millions if not billions of apps, and they even can use them in desktop mode. When Microsoft can’t compete with Android, how can we? We need to accept and use their apps.”

It’s Very (Very) Very Early Days

I need to put on a bright yellow construction worker hat here, pick up my high-vis flags, and warn you through the flag semaphore that this whole ‘Android on Ubuntu Phone’ stuff is still a work in progress, and is not (currently) something you can try yourself,

If I don’t make absolutely certain that this section isn’t missed by the skim read brigade then certain critics will use the occasion to throw the word “clickbait” at me.

So, please, don’t get massively excited. This may come to nothing or it may bring Snapchat to the Linux-lovin’ masses. Either way it is super very mega totally much absolutely early days for this initiative.

But if it works, and if it can be ported to work with Ubuntu Personal (the future basis of Ubuntu across devices) it could allow us to run Android apps on the Ubuntu desktop, too.

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