While Apple and the iPhone 5S have introduced the mobile world to the idea of 64-bit computing in our pockets, it’s going to be a long time until we see 64-bit take off in the mainstream. Apple can boast all they like, but it’s going to take quite some time before apps or games start to really take any advantage of this extra processing power. Qualcomm and Nvidia – among others – have already announced powerful, 64-bit chips heading to the market in the near future, but we’ve yet to see Google take wraps off of a 64-bit Android OS. Luckily for app developers and perhaps potential hardware testers, Linaro has once again built a modified build of Android, this time a 64-bit build.
Many of you will remember Linaro as the organization that gave Android a speed boost by compiling Google’s source code with a different toolchain. Since then, Google have slimmed Android down and given it a good speed boost with Project Butter and further optimization in KitKat. Even today though, kernels built using the Linaro toolchain can be found for many devices from devs on XDA-Developers and they often offer a respectable speed boost. Now, the organization has built a 64-bit version of Android using the 32-bit code available from Google and is offering monthly engineering builds of the code to those interested. These builds are based on the 3.14 Linux kernel and a stable version will be available once every three months.
Of course, with no 64-bit Android hardware out there in the wild, app developers have little choice but to emulate the 64-bit code on 32-bit machines. Linaro is saying that while this is slower, it’s better than nothing and will at least give developers an idea of what could go wrong or what will need work. With no word from Google on just when we’re going to see a 64-bit Android, these builds from Linaro might b the closest developers will get for quite some time. Who knows, this might even push Google a little bit closer to a launch, but we’re expecting 64-bit Android to appear at Google I/O, the search giant’s massive developer conference later this year.