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An introduction to Android GPU Inspector

Android GPU inspector

If you want your game or app to stand out in the Google Play Store, one of the safest strategies is to have incredible graphics. In fact, many users download games purely for their graphic fidelity – especially if the phone is new and they want to see what it can do!

See also: Beginner’s Guide to Android Game Development: Everything You Need to Know

Finding tricks to get the most performance from a device can therefore be very useful. Fortunately, Google and its partners provide many tools for the job, including Android GPU Inspector.

What is AGI?

Android GPU Inspector (AGI) is a graphics profiling tool that lets developers see exactly what’s happening inside their devices as they run applications. More specifically, it exposes a large amount of information about GPU performance. Since AGI is now in open Beta, it means that developers are free to start playing with it.

As long as they have the right hardware that is! Android GPU Inspector currently only works with Google Pixel 4 (and XL) and requires Android 11 (no emulators either). Of course, the list is limited in beta now, but eventually all devices should be supported. Check back here for updates, or note the official list of supported devices.

See also: How to create a game in one device: it starts with a simple 3D maze game

Once you have learned to read the many calculators provided by Android GPU Inspector, you can identify and solve performance issues. You can see if your application is GPU or CPU bound, if the bottleneck is linked to excessive geometry or excessive textures and much more. You can then use that information to optimize your apps for better performance. Both Vulkan and OpenGL ES applications are supported.

How to use Android GPU Inspector

Getting started with Android GPU Inspector is easy.

Go to GPUInspector.dev and download the latest version of the current operating system. You need to install Android Debug Bridge (ADB). It acts as the cable between the Android device and the desktop computer running AGI. ADB comes with Android SDK, so if you are a developer you should already know it. Otherwise, check out our guide to the Android SDK for beginners!

Make sure the application is debugable (with the debugging feature attribute in the Android manifest). Connect the device (with ADB troubleshooting enabled) and start AGI.

When AGI starts up, you will be prompted to add the ADB path. This should be in your Android SDK folder, under Platform Tools. Once you have done that, click “Capture a new track.” You will be taken to the capture menu option, where you can select your device and the program you want to track.

Android GPU Inspector 3D graphics

AGI comes with a minimal Volcano program that you can use as a test.

Select “System Profile” under “Type”. Select “Manual” and “2” respectively under “Start and duration”. Click “Configure” under “Tracking Options” to access a window where you can select all the profiling data you want to expose.

Finally, select where you want the recording file to be stored under “Output”. When done, click “OK” and let AGI do its thing. After a few seconds, the process ends. When done, click “Open Tracks” to see all the juicy information for yourself!

If you’re like me, you may find all this information a little overwhelming! Fortunately, you can find a complete breakdown of what each of the calculators means here.

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