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While most Android applications are written in Java, there are many differences between the Java API and the Android API, and Android does not use a Java Virtual Machine but another one called Dalvik.
There is no Java Virtual Machine in the Android platform. Java bytecode is not executed. Instead Java classes are compiled into a proprietary bytecode format and run on Dalvik, a specialized virtual machine (VM) designed specifically for Android. Unlike Java VMs, which are stack machines, the Dalvik VM is a register-based architecture.
Dalvik has some specific characteristics that differentiate it from other standard VMs:
Because the bytecode loaded by the Dalvik virtual machine is not Java bytecode and due to the specific way Dalvik loads classes, it is not possible to load libraries packages as jar files. A different procedure must be used to load Android libraries, in which the content of the underlying dex file must be copied in the application private internal storage area before it is loaded.
As is the case for the Java SE class
System, the Android
System class allows the retrieval of system properties. However, some mandatory properties defined with the Java Virtual Machine have no meaning or a different meaning on Android. For example:
Dalvik does not align to Java SE nor Java ME class library profiles (e.g., Java ME classes, AWT or Swing are not supported). Instead it uses its own library built on a subset of the Apache Harmony Java implementation.
By default, the default output stream
System.err do not output anything, and developers are encouraged to use the
Log class, which logs Strings on the LogCat tool. (this has changed at least from HoneyComb, and they now output to the log console as well)
Android does not use the Abstract Window Toolkit nor the Swing library. User Interface is built using View objects. Android uses a framework similar to Swing based around
Views rather than
JComponents. However, Android widgets are not JavaBeans: the Android application
Context must be provided to the widget at creation.
Android widget library does not support a Pluggable look and feel architecture; The Look and Feel of Android widgets must be embedded in the widgets themselves. There is, however, a limited capability to set styles and themes for an application.