March 8, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka
The quality of games on Android has greatly improved on 2.0 devices, and users can count on even more advanced games thanks to the latest release of the Android Native Developer Kit (NDK). The Android NDK can be used to target Android devices with 1.5 or higher, and includes a number of enhancements; however, what’s really exciting is that developers building apps for 2.0 or higher will get “direct access to OpenGL ES 2.0 features” like controlling the way graphics are rendered.
To put it more plainly, the Android NDK r3 gives developers more options to take advantage of an Android device’s powers, especially in the graphics department. Android runs apps created in Java through a virtualization process, but the NDK lets developers build their apps in native code, which is faster and provides higher-quality graphic capabilities. You’ve probably noticed a difference in the speed and quality of graphics on some iPhone games compared to Android, but that gap can be closed with the right talent utilizing the NDK.
Native programming will open Android to more developers who may not be familiar with Java or would prefer to build apps using tools like OpenGL that are already familiar to them. You won’t see any payoffs of this right away, but this is something to look forward to in the near future. It looks like Google released the new NDK just in time for the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.