05
May
reality-check
Last Updated: June 29th, 2013

It's 4 a.m., I just read the 6th mention of the same misleading story in the last 24 hours, and it's time for a rant.

Yesterday, several "independent" reports all claiming to arrive at the same conclusion at the same time (does anyone properly credit their sources anymore?) appeared on the web suggesting HTC had just (*gasp*) leaked two new Android 4.3 features: Bluetooth Low-Energy and OpenGL ES 3.0. And it's done so via a public meetup organized by the San Francisco Android User Group. HTC is so careless that they've just published not one but two unreleased features coming in the next version of Android and therefore protected by strict NDAs. What a scoop!

Reality check time. What we're seeing here is a classic case of jumping to premature conclusions (is it time for an industry-wide intervention on jumping to conclusions yet?). Indeed, HTC is going to be introducing some improvements for some of their devices in the future, but it doesn't mean that they will come as part of Android 4.3, 5.0, or any version of Android as a whole. It's possible that they will, by all means - in fact, I'd be surprised if Google doesn't end up addressing both of these hot topics in the near future, but that's beside the point. Let me break down each announced feature.

OpenGL ES 3.0

In August of 2012, Khronos finalized the spec for OpenGL ES 3.0. The latest iteration promised better texture compression, improved compatibility with desktops, optimized battery consumption, and other things developers have been salivating about ever since.

In February of 2013, Qualcomm announced OpenGL ES 3.0 certification for its Snapdragon 600/800 processors' Adreno GPUs, which even further points at a driver update for Adreno rather than anything to do with the next version of Android.

On March 27 2013, HTC told The Inquirer that OpenGL ES 3.0 would be available for the HTC One in a future update. There no mention of Android 4.3 or an update to the OS version.

It's possible that new APIs and/or an update to the NDK will be announced at I/O (I hope they are) to let developers utilize new OpenGL ES 3.0 functionality. However, guessing that it will be an Android 4.3 feature is premature.

In fact, I think Google may backport OpenGL ES 3.0 support to previous Android versions and the OpenGL ES 3.0 support will not be tied to a specific future Android release. The NDK is not coupled with the SDK.

For example, Android 2.0 was released in October of 2009, but it was the NDK r3 update in March of 2010 that added support for OpenGL ES 2.0, independently of a specific Android release, yet compatible with Android 2.0 and up.

Bluetooth Low-Energy

HTC has had a BLE sign-up page for partners for a long time now - it's not even new information, contrary to the suggestions that it was leaked in the meetup.

GATT access will be enabled on all mainline HTC devices launching in and after this quarter.

Once again, no indication that it will be a feature of Android. Rather, the page is published as part of the OpenSense SDK and listed under partner APIs, meaning something HTC has itself developed on top of Android.

Hey, look - Samsung has done the same recently. In fact, Samsung is currently one step ahead of HTC, as its BLE SDK has been actually open to the public and not just partners for the last 3 weeks.

Update: As Gabriel Ittner pointed out in the comments, Google should update us on the status of BLE at Google I/O. How this will tie in with HTC's and Samsung's own efforts is not known at this time. Guessing whether BLE will indeed be added to the next version of Android or the one after that, etc. would just be speculation at this point.

HTC's Statement

Furthermore, HTC's developer evangelist Dario Laverde has since provided the following update, which is reflected in SlashGear's story:

To clarify, we’ll have some surprises for the meeting but we’re not claiming unannounced new features here – we’ll be demoing features and APIs already available on HTC devices.

– Dario Laverde, HTC

tl;dr: HTC is going to be adding some new features but there is no indication that they have anything to do with Android as a whole. By all means, it would be nice if they did - in fact, I'd be surprised if Google doesn't end up adding them in the future. But that's beside the point.

Bonus: If you haven't read Eric's excellent editorial entitled Stop Making Crap Up And Then Whining About It, I highly recommend you do it now.

Image credit: wbez.org

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • Abhijeet Mishra

    Hey, they are features of Android 4.3 for sure. If so many publications say that, who are we to say otherwise?! /s

    Good article, amazing to see how everyone jumps to conclusions, anything and everything for page views!

  • Christian Eckhardt

    Thank you androidpolice for posting things like this (and all the other stuff). It is a pleasure to read something from people who turn on their brains and check the sources and the things behind all those crap articles an many other pages. That is journalism and the quality and deepness of it is the reason why androidpolice is one of my two all time favorit techblogs. Thanks for your work and keep it up.

  • sri_tech

    This is one of the reasons I like AP.

  • Bakaouji

    Thank you thank you thank you thank you for these articles AP! It sickens me how desperate some sites are for traffic that they spread such crap.

  • MrJigolo

    Get over yourself.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Thanks for the suggestion, I'll take it under consideration.

      • Athishay

        And maybe even redesign the site while you're at it. :P
        And no pressure, but where's our app? :(

        • Danny Holyoake

          The site works fine enough on mobile. Why do we need an app?

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            That's my current stance on this. We're working on a better mobile site/experience, and while we do have an app, I'm not happy with it in its current state, and development has taken way too long to make me comfortable with releasing it.

          • EMullins

            Don't listen to these people, Artem. You guys aren't the Verge with all the production value they have. You guys have solid info, and all that is needed for that is a better mobile site. I'm personally sick of people claiming that every site needs an app anyway.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            Yeah, basically with RSS, Pulse, Currents, etc. I don't know why a separate app is needed or wanted. I know I would rather use a single app that can read all sites than an app per site.

          • squiddy20

            Personally, I think apps for websites are just dumb. Most major websites (IMDB, here, Android Central, etc.) have nice enough mobile sites that an app is superfluous. It's more crap for you guys (the "devs") to go through, and more crap for us to install and take up space on our phones.

  • DeadSOL

    This is why I love AndroidPolice! <3

  • http://twitter.com/cthonctic Cthonctic

    Thank you, I really wonder why most tech blogs don't bother checking their stories before they publish them anymore.

    That said, I absolutely wouldn't mind if BLE was supported by AOSP as soon as possible.

  • EMullins

    The people who believe articles like the one you just debunked are the same people who thought 5.0 would be out next week. I don't get how so many people in this community delude themselves and then blame other people for it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/keriyn-theph-di-xan-limited/100000964831199 เกรียนเทพ ดี อันลิมิเตด

    1. What about OpenGL ES 3.0 on Exynos?

    2. Isn't Bluetooth a standard technology, why should we have Samsung and HTC Bluetooth?

    • squiddy20

      Yes, bluetooth is a standard technology. But as I understand it (and I could be wrong), Bluetooth in AOSP is severely lacking, so OEMs like Samsung and HTC implement their own Bluetooth, rather than helping to improve AOSP.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ivan.navi.560 Ivan Navi

      No openGL es3 for Exynos, chipset uses powerVR series 5 gpu, series 5 has no support for ES3

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/keriyn-theph-di-xan-limited/100000964831199 เกรียนเทพ ดี อันลิมิเตด

        I might be wrong. Those Snapdragon with Adreno 320, 330 GPU aren't support OpenGL ES 3.0 as of now. But they just needs a proper driver to enable OpenGL ES 3.0 support on them, right? Which means Exynos or any chipset with a proper driver and enough power should be able to support OpenGL ES 3.0, am I right?

        • amine ELouakil

          Adreno 320 and 330 are OpenGL ES 3.0 ready, where as the Power VR 5 series does not support them at all.

        • marcusmaximus04

          No, the new features in ES 3.0 require hardware support that just isn't there on older GPU's. It's not a matter of "power", it just requires things the GPU doesn't have.

  • disk Latvia

    As the snap s4 pro has the same GPU as the 600 does it have gl is 3.0 drivers?

    • Stacey

      Yep the S4 Pro should get the same support. I do remember Qualcomm highlighting OGL ES 3 support on the S4 Pro, but they got a lot of heat for not supporting newer DirectX versions.

      • disk Latvia

        Great! Thanks

  • lucido

    here android start supporting opengl es 3,
    while microsoft wp still only support directx, no opengl support at all..

    *sigh*

    I'm sure most mobile dev will targeting opengl es, leaving directx in dust.
    unless you're big developer, it's hard to develop app/game targeting both opengl & directx simultaneously..

    sorry for my rant :P

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      Microsoft will probably not add support, ever. Also, if and when Windows Phone catches more market share and becomes more important, I'd say even small low resource devs will port for DirectX in order to target more users, so let's hope Microsoft adds OpenGL support. And soon. :P

  • Gabriel Ittner

    Actually Bluetooth low energy is something Google is working on https://groups.google.com/forum/m/#!msg/android-platform/CYtxCmtZ-WI/pc_cM0rIBpgJ (comment by Matthew Xie).

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I had no doubt Google was looking into it, nice find. I'd be surprised if they weren't, especially with something like Glass coming up for consumer release.

  • scuttlefield

    As always, thank you, Artem, and Android Police in general for being a light of true and reality in the often mucky world of tech blogging.

  • Caldera

    Good article clarifying things but grammatically it is:
    "besides" or "beside the point."
    Not "besides the point"

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Thanks, you're right. Fixed.

  • http://smartic.us bryanl

    Android itself doesn't have to support OpenGL ES 3.0 to have it work on a device. All you really need is hardware support, and you can access it using C++ (who writes games using Android's ES extensions) or if you really want it, you can use the NDK. The Nexus 4 hardware definitely supports 3.0

    • marcusmaximus04

      Not true. You're going to need the ES 3.0 library in order to access the new functionality. That library interfaces directly with the GPU driver to provide those features.

  • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/ Ritesh

    Oooh.. BURN... Many of these "reporters"/websites absolutely deserve the flak they get. But then, do they care? All they want is clicks.. they even post terribly biased, fury-inciting, flamebait articles on purpose for those clicks. Pathetic really.

  • Kokusho

    Android Police you'll soon be the only Android web site i'm going to read. When google Reader will shut down I'll keep only the best website and you'll be one of thoses.

    I'm tired of all the bullshit you can read everywhere by ignorant pseudo journalist.

  • marcusmaximus04

    "For example, Android 2.0 was released in October of 2009, but it was the NDK r3 update in March of 2010 that added support for OpenGL ES 2.0, independently of a specific Android release, yet compatible with Android 2.0 and up."

    That was because the library was already on 2.0 hardware(it shipped with the Nexus One, with which I was able to use to work up an ES 2.0 demo before it was added to the NDK). Said library is not available for ES 3.0 on current 3.0-capable hardware. I've looked(specifically on the Nexus 10, whose GPU is capable of it).