Google Android Expands RenderScript Support Library for Developers

The RenderScript Support Library and updated new SDK tools mean that developers can use them to support Android all the way back to Version 2.2.

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."