Android TV. There are now millions of new Android TV devices, growing rapidly, with media content and games from the biggest names in the industry.
Android Auto. More than 100 car models and stereos have launched with another hundred on their way by the end of the year. And, of course, Google Play. There were 65 billion installs in the last year alone and I’m just in constant awe of all the amazing apps and services that you’re creating that’s fueling this.
So let’s talk about what’s new in the platform. With the N release, we wanted to achieve a new level of product excellence, so we set about redesigning and rewriting many fundamental aspects of how the system works. Now, a lot of the features in N were inspired by users. How they use their phones, what they’ve told us, and how we think we can make their day-to-day experience better and more useful.
This year we decided to do something a little different by releasing early developer previews of the N release before Google I/O. We want to share our work in progress with you as we build it, so we have more time for your feedback. Also, getting the platform out earlier means there’s more time for app developers and device makers to be ready for the release later this year. The response to the N developer preview has been overwhelming. Many of you are already developing on the N preview release on a daily basis and it’s just humbling to be part of a project of this scale. So thank you for all of the feedback so far.
Now, often one of the hardest parts of creating an Android release is coming up with the name. And I have no idea why, but this year the N dessert name is proving trickier than all of the others. So for the first time ever, we’re going to be inviting the world to submit their ideas to www.android.com/N. And we’re looking forward to your input but please don’t call it NameyMcNameface. I should add that we all reserve the right to pick the winner.
All right. In the meantime, let’s jump straight in and talk about some of the biggest changes in N around performance, security, and productivity.
Let’s start with performance. We’ve improved performance in N in two key areas: graphics and runtime. In recent Android releases, we extended the OpenGL standard to bring advanced graphics capabilities, usually found on desktop and game consoles, to mobile.
With N, we’re making our biggest leap forward with the introduction of Vulkan. Vulkan is a modern 3D graphics API designed to give game developers direct control of the GPU to produce incredible graphics and compute performance. And we made a concerted effort to work with the industry on Vulkan, so you can use the same APIs and graphics assets and shaders on the desktop as well as mobile.
Because Vulkan has a lower CPU overhead than OpenGL, game developers are able to squeeze in more effects per frame while still maintaining a high frame rate. Let’s take a look at a Nexus 6P running a new version of the Need for Speed game by Electronic Arts and there are a bunch of really nice improvements in this version, thanks to Vulkan. You’ll notice the beautiful graphics in Reflexions and materials on the car thanks to physically based rendering. Also check out the realistic motion blur effect which is computed for every object at the side of the road. And there’s a really nice water surface effect on the road. And the shaders for these are pre-compiled ahead of time and can now run anywhere. So that’s graphics performance.
We’ve also spent a lot of effort working on improving the Android runtime. First, we’ve made major optimizations to our compiler. The compiler in N performs anything from 30% to 600% faster on major CPU benchmarks like Dhrystone. Second, we’ve added a new just-in-time or JIT compiler, and JIT compilation means that app installs are much faster — 75% faster in N. So now users can get up and running in your apps much more quickly. And also because JIT is more selective about which methods it compiles, we’re also able to reduce the amount of storage needed for app code by a full 50%.
Now, unlike conventional JIT systems, the Android runtime uses profile guided optimization to write compiled code to flash the next time you run the app, so this improves performance and reduces battery consumption. In summary, the new JIT compiler improves software performance, makes installs faster, and reduces the amount of storage you need for apps on your device.
Let’s talk about another big area of focus for us: security. We designed Android from the beginning with a multilayered defense-in-depth security architecture. And android employs the latest cutting-edge security technologies, things like SELinux, Verified Boot Integrity, and Full Disk Encryption.
With N, we’re continuing to strengthen our defenses in three key ways. First, N introduces file-based encryption. By encrypting at the file level instead of the block level, we’re able to better isolate and protect individual users of the system.
Second, we learned the importance last year of hardening the security of the media framework. Especially since it’s accessing files from anywhere on the internet. So in N, we’ve split out key subsystems into individual SELinux protected processes, things like codecs and file extractors. By improving the security of the media framework, we improve the security of the entire device.
Third, and this is something that’s really cool, N automatically keeps your phone up-to-date with the latest version of the system software without you having to do anything. Like Chromebooks, new Android devices built on N have two system update — two system images. So when an update is available, your phone will automatically download the new system image in the background. So the next time you power up your phone, it will seamlessly switch into the new software image. You’re no longer asked for your password when the phone powers up, thanks to file-based encryption and a new feature called Direct Boot. and that pesky “Android is upgrading dialogue” is finally gone, thanks to the new JIT compiler. I think the best feeling the software industry is actually deleting code, by the way.