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Android SDK gets major usability update thanks to GPU acceleration

April 10, 2012

Google is releasing revision number 18 of its Android emulator, which should be a real treat for Android developers of the world in dire need for better tools to build the next big hit in Google Play Store. According to a post made on Android Developers’ blog, the latest revision will bring “a dramatic performance upgrade and support for a broader range of hardware features, notably sensors and multi-finger input”.

The most prominent addition to revision 18 of the Android SDK is the built-in GPU support for Android 4.0.3 R2, which allows the emulator to use the computer’s GPU for a boost of performance. Additionally, OpenGL ES 2.0 is now supported, making it possible to run OpenGL games inside the emulator.

The latest revision allows you to tether an Android device to the emulator to supply multi-touch input and a host of other sensors. The team, however, said that they are still working to bring Bluetooth and NFC hardware support.

In addition, the R 18 developer tools also offer improved CPU performance for the emulator. “Hardware floating point operation has been available for system images since Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), allowing CPU operations to be emulated roughly twice as quickly,” the team explained. The previous iteration of the software developer kit already provided the Android emulator access to the host CPU.

Hopefully, the new and improved version of the SDK will make Android development even more accessible. Up until now, the Android emulator was barely usable, forcing many developers to buy test devices. The new Android emulator is available for Windows, Mac OS X (Intel), and Linux (i386) and you can download it directly here. If you’re new to the wonderful world of Android apps building, check out our guide right here on how to install the kit.

Let us know if you give the new emulator a try – how big is the difference for you?