Unity, if you're not familiar with game development, is a popular cross-platform game engine. Although Unity games can most often be found on PC and consoles, Android games utilizing the engine include Crossy Road, Monument Valley, Lara Croft: Relic Run, and more. Today Unity has announced the Vulkan Renderer Preview, finally allowing developers to use the Vulkan API with their games.

The Vulkan API (not to be confused with the Star Trek planet Vulcan) has been hyped to the moon and back in the gaming industry recently, and for good reason. Based on AMD's Mantle API, it is a new graphics API designed to be cross-platform (much like Unity) and have a low overhead. On the desktop, Vulkan is arguably superior to OpenGL and is directly competing with Microsoft's DirectX 12 API. In fact, the 2016 remake of Doom runs on the Vulkan API on supported systems.

But what does Vulkan mean for Android? It performs better than the OpenGL ES API that most 3D Android games use, and Unity's performance on Vulkan only confirms that. Unity's blog post reports up to 35% improvement in frame times on Android over OpenGL ES 3.1, even when both are running on a single thread. It is important to note that on devices without Vulkan, OpenGL ES will be used instead.

Unity's Vulkan Renderer Preview is very much experimental at this point, and is actively being tested on various Samsung Galaxy S7 models, Nvidia Shield Tablet and Shield TV, and the Nexus 6P and 5X. With the Preview, developers can optionally enable Vulkan support in their games through the Unity player settings. It may be a while before the Vulkan Renderer becomes stable, but Unity is making great progress.