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Google is no longer recommending RenderScript for performance-critical tasks

Google introduced the RenderScript API for Android 3.0 Honeycomb almost a decade ago. It offered a way to accelerate certain performance-critical tasks by making use of heterogeneous hardware such as GPUs. Now, the company has announced that it will no longer recommend the legacy API for such tasks, and says that developers should shift to alternatives such as Vulkan.

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RenderScript APIs will be deprecated in Android 12, and while they will continue to work, if you compile RenderScript code that is targeting the latest version of the mobile operating system, you will receive a warning.

Google has also noted that RenderScript was utilized to develop some image-processing intrinsics. The company is now offering an open source library containing some of these intrinsics instead. It claims that they are highly optimized for the CPU and are even faster than RenderScript implementations which take advantage of the GPU.

Moving forward, Google has recommended that developers who want to utilize GPU acceleration should use the cross-platform Vulkan API which was released with Android 7.0. That said, it is important to note that Vulkan is not supported on older devices, so it is recommended that developers maintain two paths for applications targeting legacy versions of the OS: RenderScript for older devices and Vulkan for newer ones. A sample app containing RenderScript functionalities and their Vulkan equivalents can also be seen here.

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