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The first phones to get GPU driver updates via app store (Update: OPPO as well)

Update: OPPO's flagships have just gained this ability too.

Published onJuly 28, 2020

OPPO Find X2 Pro screen on couch 1

Update, July 28 2020 (2:20AM ET): Qualcomm announced the ability to download GPU driver updates via app stores late last year, largely being restricted to flagship and upper-tier phones. Xiaomi was one of the first to implement this functionality, in the form of a dedicated GPU driver update app for the Mi 10 series.

Now, OPPO has done the same for the Find X2 series (h/t: XDA-Developers), with users downloading a dedicated updater utility from an app store. Much like Xiaomi however, this app is apparently restricted to China right now. Furthermore, the outlet reports that while the app can be sideloaded on global Find X2 series phones, it seems like you can’t actually update the GPU drivers via the utility.

Read: How long do chipmakers support their processors for Android updates?

The news also comes some time after Qualcomm told Android Authority that it’s “committed to a quarterly cadence” of updated drivers to manufacturers. So you shouldn’t expect a monthly release schedule, but how long will it support a chipset with these updates?

“While we can commit to supporting chipsets for two to three years post-launch, the OEM has the final say in rolling out the new drivers to their customers,” the silicon designer said at the time. “Some OEMs have a good track record in supporting legacy device software updates whilst others don’t.”

Original article, March 24 2020 (5:33AM ET): Qualcomm announced the ability to deliver GPU driver updates via the Play Store back in December 2019, initially saying it would be limited to new chipsets (starting with Snapdragon 865 and 765 series).

Now, the firm has announced that several Snapdragon 855 phones will be first to get GPU driver updates in this manner (h/t: 9to5Google). These phones are the Samsung Galaxy S10, Samsung Galaxy Note 10, and Google Pixel 4 series, with Qualcomm saying more devices will get the feature “later.”

Read: 15 best Android games available right now

The announcement comes as part of a partnership with Google for the Android GPU Inspector tool for developers. This profiling tool allows developers to inspect mobile GPU usage (including Qualcomm’s Adreno GPU) in games to figure out where improvements can be made.

In fact, Qualcomm claims that Google and a developer partner used the tool to deliver 40% GPU utilization savings in an unnamed game on the Pixel 4 XL. The silicon designer said this optimization resulted in a faster frame-rate and better battery life.

How to understand Kryo CPU numbering in Qualcomm Snapdragon processors
Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 in hand

Qualcomm also confirmed that it would make a beta version of the Adreno GPU driver available to select developers, who can then give their feedback and suggestions for future driver updates.

“The final drivers will also be available in the Google Play store on select devices. Consumers will be able to update their Adreno GPU driver just like an app,” the company reiterated.

We’ve contacted Qualcomm to find out more about GPU driver updates via the Play Store, and will update the article when they get back to us. We’ve also asked Samsung whether this feature is restricted to Qualcomm devices and await a response. But it certainly seems like a welcome feature, as it’s poised to deliver smoother performance for budget phones and for flagship devices (especially as time goes by).

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