Google Android Expands RenderScript Support Library for Developers

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-09-24

Google Android Expands RenderScript Support Library for Developers

Google's RenderScript framework for running computationally intensive tasks with high performance on Android has been a popular tool for Android developers over the last several years, and it is now getting more powerful.

For the first time, Google Android has released a RenderScript Support Library and an updated Software Developers Kit (SDK) that will allow developers to expand its use outside of the core Android code, according to a Sept. 18 post by Tim Murray of the Android RenderScript team, on the Android Developers Blog.

"One of the requests we hear most commonly from developers is to enable more devices to run the latest features of RenderScript," wrote Murray in the post. "Over the past several releases of Android, we've added a ton of functionality to the RenderScript runtime, but the runtime's dependence on the core Android platform version has limited the range of devices that can support that new functionality. We've been working on a solution to this since last year, and we're now ready to share it with all Android developers."

That's where the new RenderScript Support Library and updated SDK tools come in, allowing developers to take advantage of RenderScript on platform versions all the way back to Android 2.2, he wrote.

"With ADT v22.2, SDK Tools v22.2, and Android Build Tools v18.1.0, apps targeting Android 2.2 and later can now make use of almost all of the functionality available natively in RenderScript with Android 4.3," wrote Murray. "This includes access to the newest RenderScript features such as high-performance intrinsics and the new performance optimizations available to scripts."

To use the new RenderScript Support Library, developers must update their Android Developer Tools (ADT) and their SDK tools, then import the RenderScript Support Library from, according to Murray. Several other changes are also needed, as outlined in his post.

Developers will be able to use the same APIs from their apps as they used previously, he wrote.

"We're really pleased with how the RenderScript Support Library has turned out," Murray wrote. "We've already seen how it performs in a shipping app—it's been part of the photo editor in the Google+ Android app since May 2013, and it's definitely proven itself in a large and widely used application. We hope you'll be happy with it too."

"RenderScript is primarily oriented for use with data-parallel computation, although serial computationally intensive workloads can benefit as well," according to a Google Website about the technology. "The RenderScript runtime will parallelize work across all processors available on a device, such as multi-core CPUs, GPUs, or DSPs, allowing you to focus on expressing algorithms rather than scheduling work or load balancing. RenderScript is especially useful for applications performing image processing, computational photography, or computer vision."

Google Android Expands RenderScript Support Library for Developers

The RenderScript Support Library is just one of many open-source tools and projects that Google has released to software developers in recent months.

Earlier in September, Google released Hesokuri, a new open-source application that allows developers to automatically and safely back up their all-important source code as they are up to their eyeballs in open-source projects, as well as its Patchfield open-source audio library, which gives Android developers another tool for building audio apps.

In August, Google unveiled its Gumbo HTML parser, which is a C implementation of the HTML5 parsing algorithm. The open-source code release gives developers a simple library that can serve as a basic building block for linters, refactoring tools, templating languages, page analysis and other small programs that need to manipulate HTML, according to Google.

In June, Google released its open-source Cloud Playground environment where developers can quickly try out ideas on a whim, without having to commit to setting up a local development environment that's safe for testing coding experiments outside the production infrastructure. The new Cloud Playground is presently limited to supporting Python 2.7 App Engine apps.

Also in June, Google opened its Google Maps Engine API to developers so they can build consumer and business applications that incorporate the features and flexibility of Google Maps. By using the Maps API, developers can now use Google's cloud infrastructure to add their data on top of a Google Map and share that custom mash-up with consumers, employees or other users. The maps can then be shared internally by companies or organizations or be published on the Web.

In May, Google's Go open-source programming language was updated to Version 1.1, bringing developers new capabilities and performance improvements such as a race detector for finding concurrency bugs and new standard library functionality. Go 1.1 arrived 14 months after the release of the original 1.0 version in March 2012. There had been two minor "point releases" in between, but they fixed only critical issues and didn't amount to a reworking of the application. The new version includes significant performance-related improvements, wrote Andrew Gerrand of the Go Team on the Google Open Source Blog, including optimizations in the compiler and linker, garbage collector, goroutine scheduler, map implementation and parts of the standard library.

In April, Google released the open-source Android-based kernel code for its Glass project to encourage software developers to begin much more Google Glass apps development in a big way.

In January, Google announced that it was moving its Google Cloud Platform (GCP) over to the GitHub collaborative development environment to make it easier for software developers to contribute and continue the evolution of GCP. The GCP program has been growing since Google unveiled a new partner program in July 2012 to help business clients discover all of Google's available cloud services. GitHub is a rapidly growing collaborative software development platform for public and private code-sharing and hosting.


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