Support for Vulkan Graphics API 1.1 is coming in Android P

By | 8th April 2018

The Vulkan API is widely regarded as the successor to OpenGL. Initially announced in 2015, the Vulkan Graphics API has provided significant improvements in graphics rendering performance compared to its predecessor. Support for the graphics API made its way over to Android after its initial announcement with the first release of Android 7.0 Nougat, giving a much-needed boost to mobile gaming. Recently, a new revision of the graphics API was released, so the next logical step for Google is to integrate it into their next version of Android. And indeed, support for Vulkan 1.1 is going to be included with Android P, the next major version of Android, according to recent commits in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) gerrit.

Some of the highly anticipated features included within the 1.1 release of the Vulkan API include Subgroup Operations, extension integration, SPIR-V 1.3, and more. The commits integrating Vulkan API 1.1 have already been merged, meaning the revision will be available presumably in the second developer preview of Android P and, eventually, with the final, stable version. End users won’t really be able to see the benefit from these changes—after all, it’s not really a groundbreaking revision of the Vulkan API, but rather it redefines and improves key parts of it. Mobile games currently using Vulkan as their backend should still work and behave the same as with 1.0, and nothing will suddenly break or start working better/faster. But Android game developers should benefit a lot from the developer-oriented changes in v1.1 of the API, so users running Android P will eventually start to reap those benefits once developers start integrating the API’s new features.

Developers wanting to take advantage and play around with version 1.1 should wait until the second developer preview of Android P drops for the Google Pixel and Pixel 2 devices. As Vulkan 1.1 expands some of the core capabilities of the graphics API, there’s a lot to be excited about if you’re a game developer, so keep an eye out for future changes in Android P.