We all know that people of all ages spend a crazy amount of time playing games on their phones. Samsung has recognized that by positioning the Galaxy S7 (and S7 Edge) as premiere gaming devices, building some nifty software into the operating system that mobile gamers will appreciate.
It starts with the Game Hub, a special games folder of sorts that could serve as a launcher for running games with special conditions. You can choose to disabled notifications when running a game (useful), or reduce frame rate and resolution to save battery life (even more useful). For a basic puzzle or strategy game, you won’t notice a degraded experience by running at a lower res and locking the frame rate to a maximum of 30fps, but frame rate limiting has proven to be a very effective way to limit battery drain.
Once you’re in a game, a little floating menu gives you additional options. Record your gameplay at a resolution up to 720p, with options to record the front camera in a little floating circle if you like, or record either the microphone or game audio. Just the thing for YouTubers looking to post some quick gameplay videos from their phone without a bunch of editing. This menu also lets you toggle notifications, turn off the capacitive back and recents buttons (so you don’t leave your game by accident), or take a screenshot.
This isn’t totally new stuff. If you have a recent high-end Samsung phone, you can download Game Recorder+ or Game Tuner today and get the same features. They just won’t be directly integrated into the OS the way they are on the Galaxy S7.
First with Vulkan
Samsung claims that the Galaxy S7 is the first phone to ship with Vulkan, the graphics API from the Kronos Group that aims to do for OpenGL what DirectX 12 did for DirectX—it gets out of the way and provides more direct access to the hardware for greater efficiency. Samsung brought Epic Games graphics guru Tim Sweeney on stage to give a quick demonstration of an Unreal Engine tech demo that uses the Vulkan API. It's pretty impressive stuff for a smartphone, showing far more objects and higher fidelity than would be possible with OpenGL.
It’s an impressive graphics demo, but it’s only that—a demo. Mobile games makers aren’t expected to embrace Vulkan until there are millions of phones on the market that support the technology, but it’s good to see that it’s coming quickly and that Samsung’s leading the charge.
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