Posted by Jay Kong, Gaming and Graphics Product Manager
With the rollout of Android 11 on Pixel, Android GPU Inspector (AGI) has graduated from a limited developer preview to an open beta. During the preview, AGI has been helpful in finding performance bottlenecks for developers we've been working with, and we're looking forward to hearing your feedback.
What is Android GPU Inspector?
AGI is a graphics profiling tool that allows you to look into the GPU of Android devices to better understand graphics bottlenecks and optimize the performance of games and apps that leverage 3D graphics APIs. It shows a timeline of events for your running game or app, which includes system activities, high frequency GPU hardware counters, and, if you are using Vulkan, GPU activity information.
What devices can I use it on?
AGI relies on updated firmware and video drivers to get information it needs; the first devices to support it are the Pixel 4 and 4XL running Android 11. While we are working with device manufacturers and SoC vendors to enable more supported devices, the key insight we’ve learned on our journey is that being able to look into the GPU—even on a single device—creates a lot of value.
Working with Blizzard Entertainment Inc. and NetEase, Inc., AGI helped pinpoint 45% vertex bandwidth savings for the upcoming Diablo Immortal, a dark gothic action RPG game.
Working with King, AGI helped improve GPU frame time from 11-16ms to a stable 8ms for the upcoming Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!, allowing the game to reduce battery drain and run faster for a smoother experience.
Stay tuned for more information on how to use the tool and address common issues we’ve seen when working with real games. We’ll begin by demonstrating using AGI to indicate optimizations to make in your game’s textures.
You can also read about this topic on Medium, here.
How do I get started?
You can download AGI here, and the setup instructions are here. AGI is in beta, so there will be issues. Check out the release notes, and let us know if you see any issues here.
To learn about new device support, you can check this page. Stay up to date with AGI and all of our game developer tools by signing up for the games quarterly newsletter.
This blog post is part of a weekly series for #11WeeksOfAndroid. For each of the #11WeeksOfAndroid, we’re diving into key areas so you don’t miss anything. This week, we spotlighted games, media, and 5G; here’s a look at what you should know.
What's the buzz in Android 11?
You can now control media applications from a dedicated space within the notification area while enabling features such as playback resumption and seamless transfer.
New and updated 5g APIs help you unlock transformative new user experiences.
Adds new support for key game tools and technologies. On top of that foundation, we're building tools to both improve your game developer experience and help you better characterize the performance of your game, services to help you expand the reach of your game to more devices and new audiences, and new and improved features to support your games' go-to-market with Google Play.
Android 11 media
We covered how to take advantage of Android 11's new media controls by making sure your app is using MediaStyle with a valid MediaSession token. We showed how to support Media resumption by making your app discoverable with a MediaBrowserServiceCompat, using the EXTRA_RECENT hint to help with resuming content, and handling the onPlay and onGetRoot callbacks. Finally we showed you how to leverage the MediaRouter jetpack library to support seamless media transfer between devices. Check out the updated version of the UAMP sample which contains a reference implementation for media controls and playback resumption.
Catch up on what's happening with game development
We presented a special "11 Weeks" episode of The Android Game Developer Show providing an update on the tools, services, and technologies we're bringing to help you build, optimize, and distribute great games.
In Android Studio 4.1, we enhanced the System Trace view of the CPU Profiler and added the Native Memory Profiler, and both can now be launched standalone from Android Studio. The System Trace and Native Memory blog posts have more details on how to use them with your game or app.
You can sign up for developer previews of the Android Game Development Extension, and the Android GPU Inspector. The Android Game Development Extension helps with building multi-platform C/C++ games, while the GPU Inspector is used to profile and debug graphics. Stay tuned for the open beta of the Android GPU Inspector.
Reaching more devices and users with your game
We took a deep dive into the Android Performance Tuner, explaining annotations, quality levels, and fidelity parameters along with some best practices on how to use them. Once you've implemented that, we also covered how to use the new insights and analysis you'll get within Android Vitals.
We showed how Google Play Asset Delivery brings the benefits of app bundles to games with large asset sizes, flexible delivery modes, auto-updates, compression, and delta patching. Texture compression format targeting is coming very soon letting you tap into modern texture compression such as ASTC (now supported on over 50% of devices) allowing you to considerably cut your game size and in-memory footprint.
We launched the open beta of Play Games Services - Friends to help you bootstrap and enhance your in-game friend networks while having your games surfaced in new clusters in the Play Games app.
We demonstrated the new release management experience in the Google Play Console beta and showed how it can help your testing and publishing workflow.
Day one auto-installs is a new Google Play feature that allows users to request the automatic installation of your game during pre-registration. Early experiments show a +20% increase in day 1 installs when using this feature. The new pre-registration menu in the beta Google Play Console makes it easier than ever to access this feature.
We showed how to optimize your store listing page to take advantage of the greatly improved games visual experience within Google Play, showcasing rich game graphics and engaging videos.
The new in-app review API lets you choose when to prompt users to write reviews from within your game, without heading back to the app details page. This API supports both public and private reviews for when your app is in beta.
If you’re looking for an easy way to pick up the highlights of this week, check out the Games, media, and 5G pathway. A pathway is an ordered tutorial that allows users to complete a pre-defined module that culminates in a quiz. It includes videos and blog posts. A virtual badge is awarded to each user who passes the quiz. Test your knowledge of key takeaways about Android game development, media, and 5G to earn a limited edition badge.
Thank you for tuning in and learning about the latest in Android game, media, and 5G development.
You can find the entire playlist of #11WeeksOfAndroid video content here, and learn more about each week here. We’ll continue to spotlight new areas each week, so keep an eye out and follow us on Twitter and YouTube. Thanks so much for letting us be a part of this experience with you!
Posted by Greg Hartrell, Head of Product Management, Games on Android & Google Play
Welcome to our latest Android games update and the start of our #11WeeksOfAndroid week focused on games, media and 5G. With all of your interest and feedback in our developer previews, tools and services, we have lots to share in our ongoing efforts to help you better understand your game’s performance, expand your reach to more devices and new audiences, and support your go-to-market with Google Play.
Get the latest updates below and follow us at @AndroidDev for additional games resources and more.
Android tools for mobile game development
Android Studio 4.1: We've enhanced the CPU Profiler to expose more data with an improved UI, and we've added memory visualization, startup profiling capabilities, and sampling rate configuration to our Native Memory Profiler. Additionally, you can now open the Android Studio Profilers in a standalone UI. Checkout the System Trace and Native Memory blog posts for more details, and update Android Studio today for better profiling.
Android Game Development Extension: For developers building games on multiple platforms with C/C++, we continue to invest in our extension for Visual Studio, including adding support for Visual Studio 2019 and launching standalone Android Studio Profilers. Sign up for the developer preview to integrate with your Visual Studio workflow.
Android GPU Inspector: Look into the GPU of Android devices to better understand the bottlenecks and utilize the insights to optimize the graphical performance of your game experiences. Sign up for the developer preview and stay tuned for our upcoming open beta.
Reach more devices and users
Android Performance Tuner: Deliver higher quality game experiences to more Android users with less effort. Measure your frame rate performance and graphical fidelity and optimise between them to achieve stable frame rates at scale across the whole Android device ecosystem. Integrate the Unity plug-in or do a custom integration. Learn more in our new session.
Android Game SDK: Achievieving smoother frame rates and managing input latency on Android has become even easier! Now that the Game SDK is part of Jetpack, it’s simple to integrate our gaming libraries, such as the Frame Pacing API or the Android Performance Tuner, into your game. Grab the SDK or integrate it now through Jetpack.
Play Asset Delivery: Improve your user experience while reducing delivery costs and the size of your game with Play Asset Delivery’s flexible delivery modes, auto-updates and delta patching. Gameloft used PAD to improve user retention, resulting in 10% more new players than with their previous asset delivery system. App bundle format will be required for all new apps starting August 2021. As part of this, we will deprecate legacy APK expansion files (OBBs), making Play Asset Delivery the standard option for publishing games over 150MB.
Protect game integrity and fairness with Google Play tools: Protect your game, players, and business by reducing costs fighting monetization and distribution abuse. Some partners have seen up to a 40% decrease in potential hacks and up to a 30% decrease in fraudulent purchase attempts using our integrity and commerce APIs. Express interest in the automatic integrity protection EAP.
Boost your go-to-market
Play Games Services - Friends: Now in open beta, help players easily find and play with friends across Android games. Millions of players have a new platform-level friends list that you can access to bootstrap and enhance your in-game friend networks and have your games surfaced in new clusters in the Play Games app. Start using Google Play Games Services - Friends in your game today.
Pre-registration: Boost early installs with pre-registration and day 1 auto install. Early experiments show a +20% increase in day 1 installs when using this new feature. We have also optimized our day 1 notifications to pre-registered users. Try out the new pre-registration menu in the Play Developer Console to access this feature.
Play store updates: We’re updating games home with a much greater visual experience, showcasing rich game graphics and engaging videos. This provides a more arcade-like browse experience helping users discover new games that match what they like to play. Learn how to optimize your store listing page with the best quality assets.
In-app reviews: Give users the ability to leave a review from within your game, without heading back to the app details page, using our new in-app review API, part of the Play Core Library. Learn more in our recent blog post.
With over 2.5 billion monthly active devices, the Android Platform gives incredible reach for game developers. Taking advantage of that opportunity can be a challenge, particularly if your game really tries to push the limits of what mobile can do. We've spent years working with game developers to try to both capture and address the biggest issues, and we're just beginning to see the fruits of that effort with the launch of the Android Game SDK. The Android Game SDK is a set of libraries that you can use to enhance your Android game.
The first library we are launching in the Android Game SDK helps developers with frame pacing, the synchronization of a game's rendering loop with the OS display subsystem and underlying display hardware. Android's display subsystem is designed to avoid tearing that occurs when the display hardware switches to a new frame in the middle of an update. To this end, it buffers past frames, detects late frame submissions, and repeats the display of past frames when late frames are detected. When a game render loop renders at a different rate than the native display hardware, such as a game running at 30 frames-per-second attempting to render on a device that natively supports 60 FPS, the optimal display flow involves synchronization between the game render loop, the system compositor, and the display hardware.
Optimal Display Flow
Any mismatch in synchronization can create substantial inconsistencies in frame times. If a frame takes substantially less time to render, it can shorten the presentation of the previous frame, causing something like a 33ms, 16ms, and a 50ms sequence.
Synchronization Mismatch: Rendering too Fast
If a frame takes too long to render, a similar problem occurs. The frame will be presented for an extra frame, causing something like a 50ms, 16ms, and 33ms sequence.
Synchronization Mismatch: Slow Frame
In either of these two scenarios, the game player will experience inconsistent delays between game input and screen updates. Visually, things will look less smooth and polished. Both visuals and game play can be impacted.
The Frame Pacing library uses Android's Choreographer API for synchronization with the display subsystem, using presentation timestamp extensions on both OpenGL and Vulkan APIs to make sure frames are presented at the proper time, and sync fences to avoid buffer stuffing. Multiple refresh rates are handled if supported by the device, giving a game more flexibility in presenting a frame. For a device that supports a 60 Hz refresh rate as well as 90 Hz, a game that cannot produce 60 frames per second can drop to 45 FPS instead of 30 FPS to remain smooth. The library detects the expected game frame rate and auto-adjusts frame presentation times accordingly. The Frame Pacing library allows games to take advantage of higher refresh rate 90 and 120 Hz displays, while also making it easy to lock the refresh rate to a desired value, regardless of the underlying display refresh rate.
The Frame Pacing library is built into Unity versions 2019.2 and beyond. Just select the optimized Frame Pacing checkbox under Android Settings to enable smoother frame rates for your game. If you have source to your game engine, it's straightforward to integrate the library into your OpenGL or Vulkan renderer. We've just added library binaries for download at developer.android.com/games/sdk/, or you can download the source code from the Android Open Source Project.
Nexon Korea Company has published several games across PC, mobile, and console. With the launch of their mobile game FAITH, a MMORPG released exclusively in Japan, they wanted to promote the game before launch and find a way to capture early consumer demand that would help boost early installs at launch.
What they did
Nexon ran a pre-registration campaign on Google Play with a multi-channel marketing campaign driving players to pre-register and receive an exclusive pre-registration reward. Their campaign used consistent creative assets throughout TV commercials, YouTube influencer campaigns, social media, performance marketing campaigns, and more. Offering a pre-registration reward provided an incentive and benefit for players who pre-registered on Google Play during the month-long campaign leading up to launch.
“It was very easy to run, since the steps to activate the campaign were very clear and simple. All we needed to do was prepare the store assets and APK, then set them up in the Google Play Console,” said Hyomin Kim, Head of Platform Partnerships at Nexon Korea Corporation. Their exclusive pre-registration reward of 300 diamonds (in-game currency) was set up as a unique managed product as part of the campaign. At launch, Google Play provides the reward to all players who pre-registered, allowing Nexon to consume and grant the reward to players in-game using the Google Play Billing API. Not only did this create additional value for users, but it allowed Nexon to identify those who pre-registered in-game so they could measure the cohort’s performance after launch. Once the game became available on launch day, everyone who pre-registered on Google Play received a notification to install.
Nexon reported they had historically seen around 50% of Google Play pre-registrations convert to installs. By offering a pre-registration reward for FAITH, they increased their conversion rate by 20%. And not only that, the campaign drove other strong performance metrics with players who pre-registered for FAITH on Google Play having almost 50% higher day 60 retention than those who did not pre-register. This audience has also shown stronger monetization behavior, with over 70% higher ARPDAU than non-pre-registrants.
“Google Play pre-registration is now a ‘must-do’ strategy when Nexon launches games. From our previous experience, Google Play pre-registration is one of the most effective pre-registration platforms amongst all the channels we utilize, especially for organic impressions and installation conversion,” said Kim.
All app and game developers can run pre-registration campaigns and offer a pre-registration reward. Get started today!
Posted by Kacey Fahey, Developer Marketing, Google Play
Join us in congratulating the latest apps and games entering the Android Excellence program on Google Play. This diverse group of apps and games is recognized for their high quality, great user experience, and strong technical performance. Whether you're interested in learning meditation or a new language, or are looking for a game about butterflies or warships, we're excited to dive in to these new collections.
Check out a few of our highlighted apps.
Beelinguapp: Learn a new language with this unique app. Read and listen to stories with side by side text of the language you're learning, while following along with your language as a reference.
Fortune City: If you're looking for a fun app to help manage your personal finances, learn how Fortune City teaches good budgeting habits as you build a prospering metropolis.
ShareTheMeal: Feed a child in need with one tap on your phone, or create a team to fight hunger together with your friends, using this app by the World Food Programme.
Test your skills with these highlighted games.
Animal Crossing™: Pocket Camp: Take on the role of campsite manager as you collect items to decorate and build your ultimate dream campsite. Meet animals, build friendships and invite your favorite animals over for a fun time.
Cash, Inc.: Be the big boss of your business empire in this fun game. Work your way up to join a community of business elites and become the most famous money tycoon.
Shadowgun Legends: Save humanity from an alien invader in an epic Story Campaign spanning over 200+ mission on 4 diverse planets. Along the way, customize your character, team up with friends, and become a celebrity of the Shadowgun Universe.
See the full list of Android Excellence apps and games.
Posted by Patricia Correa, Director, Developer Marketing, Platforms & Ecosystems
The Android developer ecosystem is made up of exceptional individuals with different backgrounds, interests, and dreams. To celebrate the people who make up our community, starting today, and over the coming months, we'll be meeting with developers, founders, product managers, designers, and others from around the world to hear more about their passions and discover what they do when they step away from their computers.
Watch stories featuring adventurer Niek Bokkers from Polarsteps (Netherlands), artist Faith Ringgold from Quiltuduko (USA) and chair restorer Hans Jørgen Wiberg from Be My Eyes (Denmark). You can also read more about them and their apps on g.co/play/imakeapps.
Share your story
We'd love to hear from you too. Use the hashtag #IMakeApps on your social channels, sharing the app or game you work on, your role in its creation, and an image that best depicts who you are outside of work. We will regularly select and share some of our favorites on our channels.
If you also want to get featured in an upcoming #IMakeApps film, tell us more about yourself and your app or game, by completing this self-nomination form.
Posted by Kacey Fahey, Developer Marketing, Google Play
Based in Seattle, Big Fish Games was founded in 2002. Starting as a game studio, they quickly turned into a major publisher and distributor of casual games. Leading up to the launch of their hit time management game, Cooking Craze, the team ran an open beta on Google Play.
Big Fish Games found that using open beta provided more than 10x the amount of user feedback from around the world, and also gave them access to key metrics and Android Vitals in the Play Console. The ability to monitor game performance metrics pre-launch allowed the team to focus on areas of improvement, which lead to a 21% reduction in crash rate. The larger sample size of beta testers also provided more insights on player behavior and helped achieve a +7% improvement in day 1, day 7, and day 30 retention rates.
You can also learn more pre-launch best practices and strategies to improve performance post-launch at our Google Developer Day on Monday, March 19th at GDC. Sign up to stay informed.
Posted by Kacey Fahey, Developer Marketing, Google Play
Kicking off the new year, we're excited to welcome our latest group of Android
These awardees represent some of the best experiences and top performing apps
and games on the Play Store and can be found with other great selections on the
If you're looking for some new apps, below are a few highlights.
A great photo editor app with a full suite of filters and tools to make your
pictures shine. Learn style tips from their community and even sell your images
through the EyeEm marketplace.
Check out Musixmatch's updated app while learning the lyrics to all your
favorite songs. The app is compatible with many of the top music streaming
services and you can even follow along with your Android Wear device or on the
big screen with Chromecast support.
Plan your next hiking adventure by discovering new routes and trail guides with
ViewRanger. Check out the Skyline feature using your phone's camera to identify
over 9 million sites across the world through augmented reality.
Here are a few of our favorite new games joining the collection.
Emblem Heroes: Nintendo's popular strategy-RPG franchise is now reimagined
for mobile. Fight battles, develop your heroes' skills, and try various gameplay
modes for hours of exciting gameplay.
City: Explore the charming papercraft style world in this award-winning
puzzle adventure game. The beautiful scenery is all handcrafted.
Man's Journey: Gorgeous scenery, an immersive soundtrack, and deep emotion
help you uncover the old man's life stories while you solve puzzles and shape
the landscape to determine his future.
Congratulations to the newly added Android Excellence apps and games.
Posted by Sergejs Cuhrajs, Community Manager, Google Play
Earlier this year we launched the Google Play Apps & Games publication on
Medium to help developers discover best practices and insights to grow
successful apps and games businesses on Google Play. As we draw closer to the
end of the year we thought it's a good time to revisit some of our most popular
posts according to you – our readers.
It's clear that many of you are excited by the potential of new technology, such
as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), and how it could enhance
user interaction with your apps and games. You're also concerned with everyday
issues including how to keep your APK size manageable, how to acquire new users,
and how to monetize games without pushing away your players.
So without further adieu, here's the list of the top 10:
Do you have suggestions for topics we should tackle in 2018? Let us know by
tweeting with the hashtag #AskPlayDev and we'll reply from @GooglePlayDev, where we regularly
share news and tips on how to be successful on Google Play.