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An introduction to Android GPU Inspector



Android GPU Inspector

If you want your game or app to get noticed on the Google Play Store, incredible graphics is one of the safest strategies. In fact, many users download games purely for their graphical fidelity – especially if your handset is new and you want to see what it can do!

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

It can therefore be very useful to find tricks to get the best possible performance from a device. Fortunately, Google and its partners offer many tools for this job, including Android GPU Inspector.

What is AGI?

Android GPU Inspector (AGI) is a graphics profile tool that enables developers to see exactly what is going on when applications run on their devices. In particular, it shows a lot of information about GPU performance. Now that AGI is in open beta, developers can play around with it.

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

See also: How to make a game in Unity: It starts with a simple 3D maze game

Once you learn to read the many performance counters that Android GPU Inspector provides, you can identify and resolve performance issues. You can see if your application is GPU or CPU bound, if the bottleneck is related to excessive geometry or textures that are too large, and much more. You can then use this information to optimize your apps for better performance. Both Vulkan and OpenGL ES applications are supported.

How to use the Android GPU Inspector

Getting started with the Android GPU Inspector is straightforward.

Go to GPUInspector.dev and download the latest version for your operating system. You need to have the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) installed. It acts as a link between the Android device and the desktop PC that is running AGI. ADB comes with the Android SDK. So if you’re a developer, you should be familiar with it by now. Otherwise, check out our guide to the Android SDK for beginners!

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

When AGI boots up, you will be prompted to add the ADB path. This should be in your Android SDK folder under Platform Tools. Then click on “Record new trace”. You will be taken to the record menu option where you can select your device and the application you want to track.

Android GPU Inspector 3D graphics

AGI comes with a minimal Vulkan application that you can use as a test.

Under “Type” select the option “System Profile”. Select “Manual” or “2” under “Start and duration”. Under Trace Options, click Configure to access a window where you can select any profile data you want to make available.

Finally, select under “Output” where the acquisition file should be saved. When that’s done, click “OK” and let AGI do its thing. The process will end after a few seconds. Once that’s done, click “Open Trace” to see all the important data for yourself!

If you’re anything like me, you might find all of this information a bit overwhelming! Fortunately, here is a full breakdown of what each counter means.


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