Nov 01 AT 5:56 PM Taylor Wimberly 35 Comments

Android 4.0 applications will have hardware acceleration turned on by default

Android 4.0 Lock

Which feature of Android 4.0 are you looking forward to the most? One of the biggest enhancements that should impress the average user is hardware acceleration for phones, which will improve the overall smoothness of apps and graphics. Earlier this year Android 3.0 added support for a 2D rendering pipeline designed to support hardware acceleration on tablets and now Android 4.0 will bring an improved version to phones.

Android engineers Romain Guy and Chet Haase described the new feature in a developers blog post. “With this new pipeline, all drawing operations performed by the UI toolkit are carried out using the GPU. You’ll be happy to hear that Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, brings an improved version of the hardware-accelerated 2D rendering pipeline to phones, starting with Galaxy Nexus. In Android 4.0 (API level 14), hardware acceleration, for the first time, is on by default for all applications.”

In short, all Android applications developed with the latest Android 4.0 SDK should see improved performance thanks to hardware acceleration. This continues the trend from Android 3.0, but now Google is focused on phones and is working hard to improve the usability of the Android APIs so developers can create more exciting and apps and experiences.

Only time will tell what kind of a performance boost we can expect, but anything that allows smoother graphics is always welcome. For more information on hardware acceleration hit up the source link or check out the Google IO 2011 session titled Android Hardware Accelerated Rendering.

Source: Android Developers Blog

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • alex

    Awesome now we just need the phone on T-mobile, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon the same day and we are good :D.

    • nory826

      Yeah that would be amazing, but seems like a dream. I’m going to have import mine from the UK because I really don’t want to wait for T-Mobile to make a move. They way things are going they probably wont have anything to say until around Christmas. So I’m making sure I get it on launch day.

      • Juan

        But you won’t get to use the 4g? At least I think since it isn’t the same bands

        • Chad

          The HSPA version from what has been reported does have the Tmobile 4G bands so even if you get from overseas it will work fine. I maybe taking this option too, T-Mobile has been dragging it’s feet lately but we all know the reason why.

          • Hello

            It will only work on t-mobiles 21mbps hspa+ connection (like the sensation, mytouch 4g), not the same 42mbps hspa+ connection that the new Galaxy S II is running on, for t-mobile.

            since i’m paying for data anyways, i’d want to get the fastest possible….

    • sick of this bull

      another round of fragm3ntation???

      • Zyo

        the opposite of what you just said

    • Chad

      I’m with you, lets quit talking about it and release it! I got the money but the more time we waste the more I begin to think I can spend some of this on Christmas gifts and just be satisfied with ICS on my Nexus S and wait for the Galaxy Note to hit US shores early next year. T-Mobile is a must for both!

  • xsynth

    Cool, this is always a good thing. I really can’t wait for this to come to my nexus s! I wasn’t that impressed with the leak videos but after seeing it in the keynote it really looks amazing

  • Zomygodowned

    Nice! Now if the delay on the GN is for nifty stuff like this getting added on then i’m cool with it but lets get it our soon!

  • anjie cai

    Is ics quad core optimized or just dual core optimized?

    • Taylor Wimberly

      ICS is multi-core optimized for phones and tablets. Shouldn’t matter if it is dual-core or quad-core. Highly parallel tasks like gaming and multi-tab browsing should see biggest gains.

  • Antwan

    Should help lower battery consumption for sure, but I wonder by how much?

    • Lily

      I think it will only raise the battery consumption, because developers have more power at there hands en are going to make use of it, that means more I-candy wight will result in more load time for are cpu/gpu.

      • Lucian Armasu

        The GPU is still much more efficient at handling graphics than the CPU, though.

  • oddball

    Too bad we won’t see phones with ICS until 2013 at the rate the carriers allow updates. Look how many phones are still running froyo. Having the ability to disable apps is only going to make the carriers even less likely to let us see the update after all we will disable their bloatware and having phones with current software might make us less likely to keep forking over the money for new phones every year or so. I hope I am being pessimistic but the way the carriers treat Android vs Ios updates is really discouraging

  • Mike Leahy

    >In Android 4.0 (API level 14), hardware acceleration, for the first time, is on by default for all applications.”

    Since this is kind of a geeky topic / post to begin with I might mention that app devs will have to set the min or target SDK in their AndroidManifest.xml or Eclipse project to API level 14 for hardware acceleration to be automatically turned on. At least this is my current understanding. So unless app devs update their app hardware acceleration may not be enabled by default. IE so this isn’t some automatic acceleration feature per se and only is enabled by default after app devs update this particular setting. Of course apps specifically targeting Android 4.0 will have this set, but all apps in the wild may not automatically receive this bump, etc.

    • David

      True, but targeting (or even setting different APKs) is a non issue, as it takes 5 seconds to edit a tag and put the app to the build task.

      Therefore, a minor issue because the devs need to lose 5 seconds.

      • Daniel

        Targeting a higher API level will enable new features, like the Action Bar, and will change your app’s behavior. While you can revert those (disable Action Bar, implement your own key handler if you need old Back button behavior, deal with the disappearance of the Menu button — which I’m not sure can be even enabled back if you declare API level 11+), it still takes some time to test things and ensuring everything is alright. Mindlessly changing the target API level is a recipe for unexpected problems.

        • Mike Leahy

          Indeed.. It’s a simple change @David, but still requires an update from the dev.

          @Daniel – yah I haven’t worked much with Honeycomb+ yet.

          For my AnDevCon demos running on tablets I needed to enabled hardware acceleration and also have the old menu button. I build from Ant, so I set target=android-11 in file, set targetSdkVersion=”10″ and added android:hardwareAccelerated=”true” to the application tag in AndroidManifest.xml

          This will enable hardware acceleration while keeping the old menu functionality.

  • Nathan

    Nice now if the phone can come out sooner rather then later

  • nory826

    Man I can’t wait for this phone. ICS 4.0 just keeps sounding better and better. Finally hardware acceleration all around. I really don’t see why some people don’t like this phone either.I happen to think its the sexiest phone to date, especially sansungs sexiest phone they ever made. Can’t wait to finally own this amazing device.

    • Geraldo Riviera

      “I happen to think its the sexiest phone to date,”

      And really, if you’re going to date a phone, it should at least be a sexy one.

      • blkidea


      • nory826

        Well I wouldn’t date an ugly one.

  • mikeyDroid

    Great news – Flinging around the UI needed this, I’m excited for MY Galaxy Nexus.

  • ben dover

    I really am excited for where Google is taking Android! Seems like they are really putting a lot of effort into making the best product they can this time around!

  • Marcus

    Thats really cool how hardware acceleration will be turned on by default. I know some apps are hardly updated and i hope that will help with their performance.

  • PhyzX

    Everytime I read about ICS, it impresses me with another awesome feature!

  • KatSelezneva

    Another good and exiting news about ICS. I can’t wait to have a look at it! Android 4.0. also offers many nice features for developers. I made a short review here

  • Dave


  • abdul saleh

    I only plan on buying nexus devices ..since I hateeeeee waiting for updates. G2x customers…:(

  • SliestDragon

    Really glad this is the case. I know tons of developers would forget to turn it on. Think of how many current apps won’t be updated to use this because of lazy developers. Luckily it’s really easy to turn it on though…

  • Mocha K

    I just want ics to come to the tmobile s2

  • pritams

    IOS killer…