Chrome for Android is one of the best mobile browsers available: it has great performance, a full feature-set and great gaming technologies like WebGL and the Web Audio API. Now, thanks to Intel, you can use the full power of Chrome to publish Construct 2 games as Android native apps.
The latest version of the Intel XDK allows building apps using Crosswalk, which is a Chromium-based app engine for Android. It's a bit like node-webkit for Android, but with just the browser engine (not the node.js part). The latest beta r155 of Construct 2 can now also export for Android via Crosswalk. This is a huge step up from non-browser engines like CocoonJS and the Intel AGI! Here are some of the advantages over wrappers, which are basically the advantages of Chrome for Android:
- WebGL support (which Crosswalk enables for all devices)
- Memory management so large games keep running smoothly and don't crash
- Fast startup times
- Letterbox fullscreen modes supported
- Web Audio API support for reliable audio playback and advanced audio effects
- Web Workers for faster pathfinding
- Full DOM support: all form controls work; support for web-based services like the Facebook plugin and Clay.io
- Support for XML parsing
- Support for web fonts
- Regular updates to bring the latest new technologies and performance improvements as they arrive to Chrome
What's more is Intel are providing the build service for free!
We're confident enough in Crosswalk that the new export option in Construct 2 is simply called 'Android'.
To try out the new build system, follow the steps below. We'll be adding more documentation for this when the next stable release of Construct 2 comes around.
- Download the Intel XDK to access the build system
- Run the Intel XDK and sign up/log in if you haven't already
- Create a new project in the XDK
- Export your project from Construct 2 using the new 'Android' option
- Copy-paste the exported files over the XDK project you've created
- Switch to the 'Build' tab in the XDK
- Click the 'Build' button by 'Crosswalk for Android'
- Follow the steps to build the app
- Download the .APK on to your device (e.g. by emailing a link), install and run!
Note that the Crosswalk build is not to be confused with the old 'Intel XDK' export option, which used Intel's non-browser wrapper AGI (App Game Interface, formerly known as appMobi directCanvas). The new Crosswalk build is still built using the Intel XDK, but uses a completely different engine based on Chrome for Android. To help clarify this, r155 renames the old 'Intel XDK' export option to 'Intel AGI'.
As with any new technology, there might be a few quirks. Please test your apps and let us know how it goes. If there are any problems we'll pass them on to Intel. Our first priorities will be to integrate in-app purchases, enable access to the back/menu buttons, and make sure everything else works smoothly. However it should be possible to test the general performance and features of your games right away.
Note also that Crosswalk only supports Android 4.0+. This is unlikely to change, since that is also the requirement for Chrome for Android. However about 75% of all Android devices are 4.0+, and this will increase to virtually all devices in future.
Go forth and test!
In future we will be strongly recommending that all Android publishing is done via Crosswalk for the best features, performance and compatibility with your games. We understand that there may be some issues to resolve before it's ready for publishing, but once those are fixed it should no longer be necessary to use any non-browser wrappers on Android any more. We're very excited about the new possibilities with Android publishing, and we hope you are too. Give the new Crosswalk engine a spin and let us know how it goes!