Nathan de Vries

Wielder of bits, bytes & all things nice

iOS vs. Android ICS: Hardware Accelerated Graphics Pipelines

Earlier this year, Flipboard developer Charles Ying (@charlietuna) fairly & accurately criticised Android’s immature graphics pipeline & subsequent poor drawing performance.

Android’s UX architecture needs work. UI compositing and the view system are both primarily done in software. Garbage collection and async operations frequently block UI rendering.

It sparked a wildfire of comments on the article, Hacker News, and a writeup by John Gruber, who like many others found amusement in the defensive comments of Jonathan Rockway (@jrockway) and other Android apologists. Rockway later admitted to turning off animations entirely, adding to the amusement.

Setting aside the arguments of people who seem content with hands over their eyes and fingers in their ears, Charles had a point. Technically, Android’s architecture was inferior, and it had a measurable effect on the user experience.

Things have come a long way since then, so I think it’s only fair to take another look at Android’s graphics pipeline to see if the issues have been addressed.