Google presented various news dedicated to gaming on Android 12; on the occasion of the first day of its Google for Games Developer Summit 2021 event, including the much anticipated “Game Dashboard” and the possibility to play while the download is in progress.
The Game Dashboard is nothing new in an absolute sense: at unofficial levels, the software functionality had already been discovered – and in certain circumstances even activated. The concept will now be more than familiar to all players since it is found almost everywhere – on Windows and Xbox, it is called Xbox Game Bar; on PlayStation, it is called Control Center. In fact, on PC, the picture becomes more complicated because every service, from Steam to Epic Games Store to NVIDIA Experience, provides one. In any case, the concept is a series of commands that appear as an overlay without interfering with the game in progress; generally, that collect commands dedicated to streaming and sharing content, toggles for viewing the system performance parameters, and more. Android 12 is no exception, among the confirmed commands I find:
- Capture screenshot
- Start recording a gameplay video
- Displays the frame rate
- Turn on do not disturb mode
Further down, the Game Dashboard shows several customizable tiles, including the one to start a stream on YouTube Live, the one that displays statistics and achievements of the game currently running, and the one to change the energy management profile. The latter is interesting: thanks to the new APIs called Game Mode, it is possible to specify different settings according to the game, and the system will take care to activate them as soon as it notices that it is running.
The Game Dashboard will arrive on a select number of devices later this year; I have no more precise indications.
As for Play as You Download, it does exactly what it promises: and that is to start playing before the whole app download on your device. On the Play Store, titles compatible with this feature will be marked with a lightning bolt icon on the green installation button immediately to the left of the word Install. An example shown by Google shows how a game is already running when the download is just 18% of 127MB. According to the developers of Mountain View, it will result in at least a halving of the opening times of the games.
Google finally presented a new SDK dedicated to game creators: it is called, in a very descriptive way, Android Game Development Kit. The toolkit includes extensions and tools to integrate workflows on other development programs, such as Visual Studio, C libraries. Essential / C ++ and performance tuning tools.
Google is also partnering with Epic to give games developed on Unreal Engine a smooth and smooth transition to Android. There is also an agreement underway with Sony because users who use the Sony Distributed Build System (SN- DBS) to harmonize the power of the builds then distributed through the Android Game Development Extension, which allows Microsoft Visual Studio to make Android a target platform for projects.