Students at Columbia University are working on a way to run Apple and Android apps together on the same device. Their eventual goal is to enable you to run an Android app on an iPad or an app purchased from the Apple store on your Android tablet.

In a post on the site for their Software Systems Laboratory, they described how they got it to work. ” Cider enhances the domestic operating system, Android, of a device with kernel-managed, per-thread personas to mimic the application binary interface of a foreign operating system, iOS, enabling it to run unmodified foreign binaries.”

I’m not sure how what that all means either, but what the results would be to allow apps from other app stores to run on devices.

In a demonstration, researchers showed off an Android tablet with both Android and iOS apps on the home screen.  To show how well their system works, they opened up a benchmark app that tests the speed and performance of the device. First they ran the Android version of the app, followed by the iOS version to demonstrate that the app performed exactly the same with both the Android and iOS versions.

They also demonstrated a 3D game, Yelp and other applications in both Android and iOS with no difference apparent in the ways the apps behaved.  They were also able to use the iTunes app to sync with a Mac computer and read iBooks on the Android device.

However, the apps aren’t able to access cameras or a cellular connection.  But as the research paper points out, the project is still in its early stages. Could this mean a future where you can run the apps you prefer on a device of your choice? A so-called “walled garden” has been the foundation of Apple’s business model.

A future where you can run Windows, Android or Apple apps on the device of your choice would no doubt please many consumers.

~ Cynthia