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RubyMotion Releases Android Public Beta

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RubyMotion recently announced that its Android Support had entered public beta, which should allow early adopters to get started now developing for the Android platform. RubyMotion is a terminal based toolchain used to create native iOS, Mac, and now with this beta version, Android applications, using the popular Ruby language and tools.

The public beta is free for all RubyMotion customers. No mention is made of any future pricing changes with the upcoming 3.0 release at this time. The beta supports most Android releases starting at 1.5 "Cupcake" and including the L Developer Preview. At this time, the beta requires a Mac.

As detailed previously, RubyMotion achieves Android support by deploying a custom Ruby, which uses JNI to give developers access to the full Java API. Both the Dalvik VM and the newer ART runtimes are supported. Further, third party jars are also supported.

A popular developer productivity features of RubyMotion, its REPL, also works as expected using JIT compilation to execute statements on the runtime.

One question for the platform as it matures is what true Android-iOS cross platform development looks like. Currently, because of its statically compiled nature, many popular RubyGems are not supported. Common cross-platform concerns like HTTP access will need to be developed in a way that works with underlying platform libraries. However, there is a thriving community behind RubyMotion specific gems.

The RubyMotion community seems happy to add Android to the supported platforms. Colin Gray, an active member of the RubyMotion community had this to say: "Even in this early state, it's clear that RubyMotion for Android will provide the same productivity and workflow improvements that RubyMotion brought to iOS and OS X. Terminal-based workflow, REPL tools, and the awesome RubyMotion community".

The next steps for Android support during the beta are performance improvements, adding more builtin Ruby classes, and support for other Android APIs such as Android Wear support.

Access to the RubyMotion toolchain is $199.99 for a license, which includes a one year subscription to updates.

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