Android Emulator Getting Updates, Adds GPU Support

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I absolutely adore emulators. They're super fun to play around with and are incredibly useful when trying to figure out if a program or game is going to run on specific hardware. Android is one of those platforms that really benefits from an emulator since there are so many hardware variations running the operating system. Google has updated the Android emulator today to make app creation easier for developers.

The updates announced today go a long way in fixing a lot of the gripes developers have had in terms of testing apps on Android. This is crucial since certain apps don't like certain hardware configurations. Sure, most Android apps can run on most hardwware, but there are a few fringe cases that require specific attention. The hardware emulator helps that out a lot.

The first update is going to be especially helpful for those developing games on the Android platform. The emulator is getting built-in GPU support. This is incredibly handy since the GPU is now helping to improve performance through hardware acceleration. Check out the video below to see the difference between Android emulator running on just the CPU and then with the help of the GPU. The difference is night and day.

In even better news, the Android emulator now supports OpenGL ES 2.0. This opens up the emulator's ability to help test even more games.

The emulator is also getting more hardware features. If you tether your Android device, you can test sensors and multi-touch input. On top of that, the team is also working on adding in Bluetooth and NFC in a future update.

On top of the GPU support, the team is also improving the CPU performance of the Android emulator. How much improvement? CPU operations can now be emulated twice as quickly. Here's a video showing the performance boost that comes with the increased CPU performance.

The Android team says that a lot of these new improvements come from their ability to change the emulation from software based to hardware based. They do this through "funneling the OpenGL ES 2.0 instructions from the emulator to the host OS, converted to standard OpenGL 2.0, and running natively on the host GPU."

From the looks of it, this new emulator will be immensely helpful to developers. Developing for the Android platform can be challenging, just as developing applications that will run on multiple PC set ups can be. Here's hoping it can reverse the current trend of Android developers jumping ship.

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