Android SDK emulator update brings GPU support
The Android engineering team has released Revision 18 (r18) of its Software Development Kit for Android, used by developers to build and test mobile apps for Google's mobile operating system. The update brings better performance and other new features to the bundled Android emulator.
The most notable of these changes is the addition of built-in GPU support: the emulator can now use the host system's GPU to boost the performance of apps running in it. Android 4.x, Ice Cream Sandwich, makes heavier use of the GPU to perform animated transitions and other display effects, so the GPU support will make it run more efficiently and realistically in the emulator. The support will also be helpful for developers running resource-hungry apps like games.
Other changes include better emulated CPU performance, and support for hardware features such as sensors and multi-finger input – developers can now use these hardware inputs via a tethered Android device. A future version of the SDK and emulator will add support for more hardware including Bluetooth and Near Field Communication (NFC).
Support for OpenGL ES 2.0 has also been added, meaning that that OpenGL games will now be able to run inside the emulator. However, the developers note that "there are a lot of GPUs out there, and we haven't tested all of them for this beta release". Users are asked to provide feedback and report any bugs they find.
Further information about the Android SDK update, including a video of the emulator's virtualisation mode, can be found in the announcement blog post. Revision 18 of the SDK is available to download from the Android Developers portal; installation instructions are provided.
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