When a platform is as big as Android has become over the years, it's no wonder that the inner workings of it have changed so much. When Android was first launched, 3D graphics on a smartphone were possible, but they weren't anything to write home about. Now, however, it's common for people to play games they would usually play on a games console on their smartphones and tablets, and have zero qualms with the overall fidelity of the graphics. That's down to the ever-evolving platforms and APIs that developers have access to when developing games for mobile. Vulkan is the next-generation of these APIs, and while we've seen what it can do in demos throughout the year, it's now finally supported by one of the most popular Android smartphones out there; the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge.
Vulkan itself is a cross-platform API, just like OpenGL ES before it, and it's a much more powerful API, one that can offer developers access to all kinds of advanced rendering techniques and features, without the need for more resources, as Vulkan is actually lighter on resources. Reddit user "kawhoo2" got an update on their Galaxy S7 not too long ago, and decided to give the classic glxgears utility a spin, this time with the freely-available Vulkan extensions and, after this particular update, it now works. It's said that Vulkan support hit the Galaxy S7 line along with the new August security patches. Vulkan has been demonstrated a number of times, most notably with the below Need for Speed: No Limits demo from Samsung themselves, showing off the new capabilities of Vulkan on the Galaxy S7 itself.
Vulkan is natively supported in Android 7.0 Nougat, but some manufacturers – such as NVIDIA – have been adding in Vulkan support to their devices ahead of the update to Nougat. Now Samsung joins this elusive club and while that's not all that exciting right now, it's a big deal for Android overall. Whenever a new API or platform like this appears, it's not often picked up by all developers until there is an incentive to do so, and having it supported by one of the most popular and best-selling Android smartphones of the year is one hell of an incentive. The more people that are able to enjoy the new graphics and features provided by Vulkan, the more developers and publishers will start to include it in their games.