Google and Qualcomm have now revealed that Snapdragon performance on smartphones may get better outside of the firmware updates cycle. That’s all thanks to a newly announced partnership that appears to be, but isn’t necessarily, pulled straight from the Google-driven Project Treble playbook. Namely, via Google and Qualcomm plan on updating the Neural Networks API for Snapdragon chips via updates to Google Play Services.
The Neural Networks API, in short, provides developers with an easy way to access and apply complex neural network processing to local Android hardware. In effect, boosting performance in the background. And the change in update cycles will effectively take updates to the API to a more regular basis.
What will regular Neural Networks API updates actually do for Snapdragon phones?
Now, the benefits of being able to update the Neural Networks API (NNAPI) on Snapdragon-powered phones may not be immediately apparent. And that’s because the NNAPI is a behind-the-scenes tool on the developer end rather than something that users interact with. At least not outside of how apps perform. But Google and Qualcomm have indicated the performance boost to Google apps, for example, with Neural Networks API will be noticeable.
Summarily, the companies indicate that apps like Google Assistant, Maps, and others, will be “better” and smarter. As well as more intuitive. And that could point to improvements to the AI, based on Google’s recently announced LaMDA. Although the companies haven’t stated as much. The implications of the improved update cycle stretch well beyond Google apps though.
It will, in fact, benefit all apps that call on the NNAPI for processing. And every Snapdragon device will have been updated to the most recent version of the API. So the newest features can be utilized with fewer concerns about version fragmentation.
When will these updates start rolling out?
As of this writing, neither Google nor Qualcomm has given an exact timeframe for the updates to the Neural Networks API to start rolling via Google Play Services to Snapdragon-powered handsets and devices. The change will undoubtedly be useful. But the companies have only said that users have to wait until “later this year” to see it in action.