Android 12 gets a big push for mobile gaming, will let you play while a game downloads

Android 12 Hero Logo
Android 12 Hero Logo (Image credit: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google announced several updates for developers and gamers that aim to improve the mobile gaming experience on Android smartphones.
  • "Play As You Download" will be introduced in Android 12 as a way for gamers to jump into new games while they're downloading.
  • The new Android Game Development kit will allow developers to better optimize their games for the player's needs.

Google is introducing several new changes to the gaming experience on the best Android phones, which will allow mobile gamers to jump into new games faster and better optimize performance. These new changes will be available for devices running Android 12 when the update launches later this year.

The biggest addition to the Android gaming experience is "Play as You Download," which will let players experience new games as they're still downloading. The feature is similar to many PS5 games that offer the same quick play access, downloading the most important assets to get the player into the game while everything else continues to download in the background.

Android already offers Instant Apps, which lets users use apps or play games without requiring installation, but that feature is targeted towards smaller apps. "Play as You Download" is for larger games, and the feature will help reduce waiting time for players, especially while many of the best Android games can clock in at 400MB or more.

Android 12 Play As You Download

Source: Google (Image credit: Source: Google)

Players will also be able to enhance their gaming experience with a new Game dashboard coming to Android 12. It will provide users with quick access to useful functions during gameplay like screen recording and screenshots. This feature is already found on many Android phones but will now be built into Android 12, meaning we could see the Game dashboard arrive on Pixel smartphones.

Developers can also take advantage of new Game Mode APIs that will help optimize apps for the player's needs. This means the game can run more efficiently when the phone is in battery save mode, for example, while getting a boost in resolution and frame rate when playing in performance mode. This can be particularly useful for players on long commutes who want to conserve battery life without disrupting the game.

Google is launching the Android Games Development kit to provide developers with the tools they need to build and deploy their games better.

Play Asset Delivery will help to further compress download sizes with better texture compression, app campaigns can help developers build excitement for upcoming releases and encourage pre-registration, and the new Play Integrity API will allow developers to address various forms of abuse such as cheating.

Google's new push for Android gaming was hinted at in earlier builds of Android 12, and the latest announcements solidify the company's push for a better gaming experience on its devices. Google recently launched Stadia on Chromecast with Google TV and Unity announced support for Chrome OS in its Android development environment to better optimize games on the best Chromebooks.

Developers interested in these new tools are encouraged to check out the Android Games Development kit and express interest in the Play as You Download beta.

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Derrek Lee
Managing Editor

Derrek is the managing editor of Android Central, helping to guide the site's editorial content and direction to reach and resonate with readers, old and new, who are just as passionate about tech as we are. He's been obsessed with mobile technology since he was 12, when he discovered the Nokia N90, and his love of flip phones and new form factors continues to this day. As a fitness enthusiast, he has always been curious about the intersection of tech and fitness. When he's not working, he's probably working out.