Some time in the very near future, you may just be able to run that popular ARM-based iPhone app on your x86-powered device. Not because Intel and ARM had suddenly decided to play nice and implement some form of architecture compatibility (that would be really great), but because of a new tool released by Intel which will convert the ARM-based code to run on its own x86 hardware. Rather neat way to get killer apps ported over to x86 at an instant, don’t you think?
It is probably a well-known fact that a mobile device’s relevance is almost entirely dependent on the presence of an online app store. Apple pioneered the concept of an online App Store, while Microsoft and Google followed. And Intel was the most recent company to join the mobile app centre fray with its AppUp Center for netbooks.
But even then, an app store without a decent variety of applications for a user to pick and choose is also the fastest way to turn potential consumers off purchasing a mobile device. And that is the problem which Intel’s AppUp Center is currently facing due to its recent launch. Intel’s solution to the problem? Simple: release a tool that allows for porting the huge collection of ARM-based apps into x86-compatible code.
According to Doug Fisher, vice president of Intel’s Software and Services group and general manager of its Systems Software division, the tool will greatly simplify the processing of porting over apps built for the ARM architecture. This is done by identifying “changes that need to be made in an iPhone application, making it easier to convert the application to run on Intel-based hardware”.
At first glance, this sounds like a rather smart and time-conserving idea to solve the app shortage problem. On one hand, developers do not have to maintain two different source code trees when compiling apps for mobile devices based on ARM and x86. Instead, they just need to release an ARM-native version, run it through Intel’s tool and make the relevant changes needed for the app to be x86 compatible.
On the other hand, it creates the perception that there is a high possibility of popular ARM-based apps being ported over to the x86 platform in the shortest possible time, thus raising consumer interest and attention.
“It’s basically taking the existing applications, finding the ones that are most relevant to end users, and ensuring they get pulled over,” he said in an interview with IDG News.
“Getting people excited to develop to Intel platforms is absolutely critical to us..Intel is trying to achieve this through developer tools and developer competitions, and by making it easier for developers to monetize their applications,” he added.
If it works out, Intel might soon be able to build up a sizable repository of applications for its AppUp Center. This is especially important for the success of Meego, Intel’s fledgling smartphone operating system co-developed with Nokia, as it will provide the platform with the much needed apps needed to hold its own in the smartphone OS wars.
Unfortunately, Fisher did not offer any release date for the conversion tool, so do check back for updates.