Vulkan is Google’s answer to Apple Metal for Android games

Vulkan is coming to Android. Photo: Samsung

Vulkan is coming to Android. Photo: Samsung

Apple Metal, introduced at last year’s WWDC, gives developers low-level access to the GPU to maximize the graphics and performance potential of their games. Now Android gamers are going to get a taste of that, too.

No, Apple isn’t bringing Metal to Android — but Google is adopting an alternative called Vulkan.

Created by the developers of the OpenGL standard, Vulkan is a low-overhead API that provides high-performance apps and games with direct access to the GPU, so they can take full advantage of its capabilities. It also works with your device’s CPU to better distribute load among its multiple cores, so the more you have, the better.

But Vulkan won’t just benefit high-end devices with powerful specifications. In fact, those with entry-level and midrange devices should find that games written to utilize Vulkan perform better on their hardware than they would today.

Here’s a short clip of Vulkan in action:

Developers will need to make good use of Vulkan to really take advantage of its capabilities, and of course, existing titles won’t get the benefit of it unless they are updated. We should also point out that Vulkan for Android won’t be ready for a while yet, so you’ll have to wait a little while for it.

Nevertheless, this is great news for Android users who treat their smartphones and tablets as handheld consoles.