'Project Butter' to improve responsiveness in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
When Google's upcoming Android 4.1 Jelly Bean mobile OS hits devices in July it will incorporate "Project Butter," a processing framework designed to speed up UI responsiveness and graphics processing.

The aptly-named Butter is expected to reduce latency, increase intuitiveness and make for a smoother overall experience in an effort to address the prominent issue of perceived lag seen in previous Android iterations. As Android User Experience Director Matias Duarte put it in a Nexus 7 presentation video shown at Google I/O on Wednesday: "We declared a war on laginess."

According to Google's Android developer website, Butter uses so-called "vsync timing" across all graphics drawing and animations to ensure a constant frame rate, allowing for a smoother operating environment that is supposedly "effortless" and "intuitive." All graphical assets including application rendering, touch events, and display refreshes are synced against the vsync clock which runs at a snappy 16 milliseconds.

Google is focusing on user interactivity by reducing the lag time between screen touch and UI response, claiming that Jelly Bean will actually anticipate where a finger will be at the moment of the next screen refresh. While the statement may include a dash of hyperbole, it is possible for an OS to "guess" what graphical asset a user will likely touch next in certain instances like radio buttons or "yes/no" pop up overlays. It is unclear how the OS calculates this input data, but apparently the feature "results in a more reactive and uniform touch response." Finally, after long periods of inactivity, the newest Android build will apply a CPU boost to the next touch event to further reduce perceived lag.

Project Butter
Google's new Nexus 7 tablet will run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
driven by "Project Butter." | Source: Google


One of the more unique additions to Jelly Bean is the new "systrace" developer tool that collects data directly from the Linux kernel and displays the gathered information in a "vertically stacked" time series graphs. The process, dubbed "tooling," uses systrace to help in isolating rendering interruptions and other OS issues, affording a bird's-eye view of system operations. Google's systrace tool is available in the Android SDK (tools R20 and higher).

While the overall benefits of Butter have yet to be seen, the graphics-centric initiative looks to make up some ground on the Apple's iOS. The two operating systems have been compared numerous times before and many pundits believe iOS to have the smoother, more intuitive interface though the playing field may be leveled when Jelly Bean arrives next month.

One of the first devices to sport Jelly Bean will be Google's own Nexus 7, a 7-inch tablet announced on Wednesday that hopes to nibble at the iPad's massive marketshare. The product should be an ideal testbed for Butter as it uses an NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core CPU and 12-core GPU chipset to power a high-resolution 1,280-by-800 pixel display. According to Google's own website, the system will allow for animations of up to 60 frames per second and can chew through edge-to-edge 720p video.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 109


    This is pretty awesome for a .1 update.


     


    It's great that the there will be 4 devices with it right at launch too. It's also going to be easy for OEMs to update from ICS to JB

  • Reply 2 of 109
    markbyrnmarkbyrn Posts: 587member
    So Google needs to have a "project" to actually correct deficiencies in Android (e.g. lag) and they call it Butter? How about Project Lube or Project WD-40? For crying out loud.
  • Reply 3 of 109

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by markbyrn View Post



    So Google needs to have a "project" to actually correct deficiencies in Android (e.g. lag) and they call it Butter? How about Project Lube or Project WD-40? For crying out loud.


    I don't see what's wrong with it.

     


    Apple pushes out updates to increase the performance of their devices too.


     


    What's the issue?

  • Reply 4 of 109
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member


    Right up there with the name Jelly Bean is the the name of the developer seminar for this project "For Butter or Worse"


     


    Are you kidding me?


     


    I'll guess "Worse" for $200.

  • Reply 5 of 109
    markbyrnmarkbyrn Posts: 587member
    I don't see what's wrong with it.

     
    Apple pushes out updates to increase the performance of their devices too.

    What's the issue?

    Apple would it call bug fix or a service release. Google want you to think it's a feature not to have lag, and so they call it "Project Butter" - a laughable euphemism.
  • Reply 6 of 109
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MaroonMushroom View Post


    I don't see what's wrong with it.

     


    Apple pushes out updates to increase the performance of their devices too.


     


    What's the issue?



    I think the issue is that Google and all the Android supporters spent the first three revisions of the OS and the last five years or so claiming that these problems didn't exist, and now (by copying an Apple technique BTW), they attempt to fix them with a special "patch" that runs in the background constantly.  It certainly deserves a huge eye roll at the least.  


     


    The OS should have been designed properly from the beginning, but then it wasn't really designed for the devices it actually runs on anyway was it?  

  • Reply 7 of 109
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,162member
    Hmmmm I don't recall punching in the URL for androidinsider.com
  • Reply 8 of 109
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,069member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MaroonMushroom View Post


    I don't see what's wrong with it.

     


    Apple pushes out updates to increase the performance of their devices too.


     


    What's the issue?



    I remember quite a few people telling everyone how Android running on the latest hardware as "as smooth as an iPhone" when it was clearly not.  All the android phones I've used clearly had UI performance issues, some more than others but it was there nonetheless.  I haven't used the latest Samsung phones but it certainly makes sense why Android always touts the fastest hardware to do what the iPhone can do even better with less.



    I'm not going to hold my breath on this. 

  • Reply 9 of 109

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


    I remember quite a few people telling everyone how Android running on the latest hardware as "as smooth as an iPhone" when it was clearly not.  All the android phones I've used clearly had UI performance issues, some more than others but it was there nonetheless.  I haven't used the latest Samsung phones but it certainly makes sense why Android always touts the fastest hardware to do what the iPhone can do even better with less.



    I'm not going to hold my breath on this. 



    Check out the initial hands on impressions of this tablet. It's pretty amazing

  • Reply 10 of 109
    macinthe408macinthe408 Posts: 1,050member


    Well done, Google. Welcome to 2007. 

  • Reply 11 of 109
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 42,969member
    gazoobee wrote: »
    The OS should have been designed properly from the beginning, but then it wasn't really designed for the devices it actually runs on anyway was it?  

    Difficult when you're reverse engineering software that does work.
  • Reply 12 of 109
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    Yep.

    Goal for 2012 for one of the biggest I.T. company's on the face of the planet:

    Smooth Scrolling.
  • Reply 13 of 109
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


    I remember quite a few people telling everyone how Android running on the latest hardware as "as smooth as an iPhone" when it was clearly not.  All the android phones I've used clearly had UI performance issues, some more than others but it was there nonetheless.  I haven't used the latest Samsung phones but it certainly makes sense why Android always touts the fastest hardware to do what the iPhone can do even better with less.



    I'm not going to hold my breath on this. 



    They showed a video comparison of ICS vs. JB and JB reacted noticeably faster on the animations following a finger tap. The entire animation was faster though not just the reaction time after the tap, which could be in response to the increased frame rate and not necessarily more efficient code. 

  • Reply 14 of 109
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member


    That's funny. I could have sworn that previous versions of Android were already smooth and on par with iOS. Or at least that's what plenty of people have claimed in the past. Why would they need to fix the lag and responsiveness all of a sudden?


     


    Could it be that those people who claimed that Android was laggy, buggy and unresponsive were right all along? Why yes, I do believe so. 

  • Reply 15 of 109
    fredaroonyfredaroony Posts: 619member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


    I remember quite a few people telling everyone how Android running on the latest hardware as "as smooth as an iPhone" when it was clearly not.  All the android phones I've used clearly had UI performance issues, some more than others but it was there nonetheless.  I haven't used the latest Samsung phones but it certainly makes sense why Android always touts the fastest hardware to do what the iPhone can do even better with less.



    I'm not going to hold my breath on this. 



    I don't have any lag at all on my One X nor did I on my HTC Sensation. 

  • Reply 16 of 109


    Butters?


     


    image

  • Reply 17 of 109
    fredaroonyfredaroony Posts: 619member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by macinthe408 View Post


    Well done, Google. Welcome to 2007. 



    lol it's not like the iPhone has never had lag...even my iPhone 4 would lag sometimes let alone a earlier model.

  • Reply 18 of 109
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,735member


    "Project Butter" to correct the basics that should have been nailed from Day 1, and which Apple made it their business to perfect, and did it very early on. 


     


    Bu then, that's what you get with a horizontal business model. I will NEVER, as long as humanly and technically possible, use an OS (unless I have no choice, at work, etc.) that isn't controlled (along with the hardware) from cradle to grave. 

  • Reply 19 of 109
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,654member


    So Google admits Android 4.0 and earlier are slower than iOS?

     

  • Reply 20 of 109
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,735member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by fredaroony View Post


    lol it's not like the iPhone has never had lag...even my iPhone 4 would lag sometimes let alone a earlier model.



     


    Anecdotes are cool like that. You can throw out as many "for me" and "my friends" experiences as you want without them having to have any real basis market-wide. 

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