Anyone who is rooted (and regardless of device) will know of the Xposed framework. This (at least in my opinion) is one of the main benefits of rooting. For those unfamiliar (and in an extremely basic way) Xposed is like an alternative Play Store except that it does not contain apps but offers ‘modules’ and they are all free. With these modules users are able to affect apps, the device and the system at the system level. Xposed allows for an extremely varied ability to tweak your device to give you better performance, more individualism or simply clever little add-ons. Now, I can absolutely assure you that all Xposed users have been wondering recently what the future holds for the framework. There is no doubt its users are all looking forward to the release of Lollipop although at the back of their mind they will be worried about the compatibility of Xposed with Lollipop. You see Lollipop is a paradigm shift for many developers as it steps away from the now-dated Dalvik runtime in favour of ART. Xposed does not work with ART currently and as such will not be compatible with any device running on Lollipop, rooted or otherwise. With this in mind, many Xposed users know in the back of their minds that a future with Lollipop may be one without Xposed.
Today rovo89, the mastermind behind Xposed posted his latest thoughts on the Xposed/Lollipop situation on XDA. In the post rovo89 does highlight the reality of trying to integrate the two effectively. According to rovo89 there are a number of issues and hurdles to overcome before an ART Xposed comes to market. The more basic issues (at least from the consumer perspective) is that time is an issue for rovo89 personally. For such a big change a lot of time and dedication needs to be put into the cross-over for which rovo89 is limited with at the moment. More complicated issues involve the lack of a final image release. Although we did see a final preview (‘final’ refers to a last preview not a final image), rovo89 notes that it is at least a month old. As such Google will no doubt make more changes in the meantime. Rovo89 advises it is simply not realistically possible to work on an ART Xposed before the final image is released. Further on from this, once the image is released rovo89 again adds when he does start to work on Xposed it will probably be on a CyanogenMod (CM) ROM. This will add further length to the time-frame as CM has long stated that they too are not too focused on working on Lollipop until the final image is released. As well as the time issue, rovo89 also notes the change to ART is only one of the changes that will make the adjustment of Xposed difficult. Noting the SELinux is also much stricter in Lollipop which also blocks many aspects required for Xposed to function. This is also while remembering that Xposed will also need to try and adopt Material Design which will be an additional pressure on its own.
In spite of all the bad news (from Xposed user’s POV) it is worth noting there is good news here. Rovo89 could have just let Xposed go into the wilderness, but today’s post does at least suggest he is thinking and planning for a Lollipop future. Whether or not this can be realised is another story but at least the possibility is still alive. Although rovo89 comments that time will be an issue for him, he also does advise that he will publish the work-in-progress source code on-route with the opportunity for the community to help if they can. Although be aware it is suggested you will need advanced knowledge of topics like assembler and bytecode. For now, it seems we will just have to wait and see how the project progresses before we know for sure whether it is possible let alone on its way. Will you miss Xposed if it is not compatible with Lollipop. Let me know what you think.