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Category: Android

News from the MobileXPRT 3 team

A few months ago, we shared some of our thoughts during the early planning stages of MobileXPRT 3 development. Since then, we’ve started building the new benchmark with Android Studio SDK 27. We’re now at a place where we can share more details about what to expect in MobileXPRT 3. In a nutshell, one of the five workloads in the previous version, MobileXPRT 2015, is getting a major overhaul, the remaining four workloads are getting updated test content, and we’re adding one completely new workload.

One of the first challenges we tackled was to completely rebuild the Create Slideshow workload. In MobileXPRT 2015, the workload uses FFmpeg to convert photos into video. FFmpeg utilizes a C++ executable, and it needs to be compiled differently for different architectures such as x86, x64, arm32, arm64, etc. With each new Android version, the task of maintaining FFmpeg compatibility with numerous architectures and Android versions becomes more complex. MobileXPRT 2015 still works well on most Android devices, but we wanted a more future-proof solution. In MobileXPRT 3, the Create Slideshow workload will use the Android MediaCodec API instead of FFmpeg. This change enables the workload to run successfully on devices that could not complete the workload in MobileXPRT 2015.

We are updating the test content of the following workloads: Apply Photo Effects, Create Photo Collages, Encrypt Personal Content, and Detect Faces to Organize Photos. We will replace items such as photos and videos with more contemporary file resolutions and sizes where applicable.

In the mobile device market, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities are rapidly moving from the level of novelty to being integrated into many daily tasks, so we wanted to include an AI or ML element in MobileXPRT 3. Our new workload uses Google’s Mobile Vision API to perform optical character recognition (OCR) tasks involving scanning receipts for personal records or an expense report. The scenario is similar to the OCR receipt-scanning task in WebXPRT 3, though the two workloads are based on different text-recognition technologies.

Finally, we’re updating the MobileXPRT UI to improve the look of the benchmark and make it easier to use. We’ll share a sneak peek of the new UI here in the blog around the time of the community preview. If you have any questions about MobileXPRT 2015 or MobileXPRT 3, please let us know!

Justin

AI and the next MobileXPRT

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, we’re in the early planning stages for the next version of MobileXPRT—MobileXPRT 3. We’re always looking for ways to make XPRT benchmark workloads more relevant to everyday users, and a new version of MobileXPRT provides a great opportunity to incorporate emerging tech such as AI into our apps. AI is everywhere and is beginning to play a huge role in our everyday lives through smarter-than-ever phones, virtual assistants, and smart homes. The challenge for us is to identify representative mobile AI workloads that have the necessary characteristics to work well in a benchmark setting. For MobileXPRT, we’re researching AI workloads that have the following characteristics:

  • They work offline, not in the cloud.
  • They don’t require additional training prior to use.
  • They support common use cases such as image processing, optical character recognition (OCR), etc.


We’re researching the possibility of using Google’s Mobile Vision library, but there may be other options or concerns that we’re not aware of. If you have tips for places we should look, or ideas for workloads or APIs we haven’t mentioned, please let us know. We’ll keep the community informed as we narrow down our options.

Justin

Planning the next version of MobileXPRT

We’re in the early planning stages for the next version of MobileXPRT, and invite you to send us any suggestions you may have. What do you like or not like about MobileXPRT? What features would you like to see in a new version?

When we begin work on a new version of any XPRT, one of the first steps we take is to assess the benchmark’s workloads to determine whether they will provide value during the years ahead. This step almost always involves updating test content such as photos and videos to more contemporary file resolutions and sizes, and it can also involve removing workloads or adding completely new scenarios. MobileXPRT currently includes five performance scenarios (Apply Photo Effects, Create Photo Collages, Create Slideshow, Encrypt Personal Content, and Detect Faces to Organize Photos). Should we stick with these five or investigate other use cases? What do you think?

As we did with WebXPRT 3 and the upcoming HDXPRT 4, we’re also planning to update the MobileXPRT UI to improve the look of the benchmark and make it easier to use.

Crucially, we’ll also build the app using the most current Android Studio SDK. Android development has changed significantly since we released MobileXPRT 2015 and apps must now conform to stricter standards that require explicit user permission for many tasks. Navigating these changes shouldn’t be too difficult, but it’s always possible that we’ll encounter unforeseen challenges at some point during the process.

Do you have suggestions for test scenarios that we should consider for MobileXPRT? Are there existing features we should remove? Are there elements of the UI that you find especially useful or have ideas for improving? Please let us know. We want to hear from you and make sure that MobileXPRT continues to meet your needs.

Justin

Decisions, decisions

Back in April, we shared some of our initial ideas for a new version of WebXPRT, and work on the new benchmark is underway. Any time we begin the process of updating one of the XPRT benchmarks, one of the first decisions we face is how to improve workload content so it better reflects the types of technology average consumers use every day. Since benchmarks typically have a life cycle of two to four years, we want the benchmark to be relevant for at least the next couple of years.

For example, WebXPRT contains two photo-related workloads, Photo Effects and Organize Album. Photo Effects applies a series of effects to a set of photos, and Organize Album uses facial recognition technology to analyze a set of photos. In both cases, we want to use photos that represent the most relevant combination of image size, resolution, and data footprint possible. Ideally, the resulting image sizes and resolutions should differentiate processing speed on the latest systems, but not at the expense of being able to run reasonably on most current devices. We also have to confirm that the photos aren’t so large as to impact page load times unnecessarily.

The way this strategy works in practice is that we spend time researching hardware and operating system market share. Given that phones are the cameras that most people use, we look at them to help define photo characteristics. In 2017, the most widespread mobile OS is Android, and while reports vary depending on the metric used, the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S7 are at or near the top of global mobile market share. For our purposes, the data tells us that choosing photo sizes and resolutions that mirror those of the Galaxy line is a good start, and a good chunk of Android users are either already using S7-generation technology, or will be shifting to new phones with that technology in the coming year. So, for the next version of WebXPRT, we’ll likely use photos that represent the real-life environment of an S7 user.

I hope that provides a brief glimpse into the strategies we use to evaluate workload content in the XPRT benchmarks. Of course, since the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community is an open development community, we’d love to hear your comments or suggestions!

Justin

Keeping up with the latest Android news

Ars Technica recently published a deep-dive review of Android 8.0 (Oreo) that contains several interesting tidbits about what the author called “Android’s biggest re-architecture, ever.” After reading the details, it’s hard to argue with that assessment.

The article’s thorough analysis includes a list of the changes Oreo is bringing to the UI, notification settings, locations service settings, and more. In addition to the types of updates that we usually see, a few key points stand out.

  • Project Treble, a complete reworking of Android’s foundational structure intended to increase the speed and efficiency of update delivery
  • A serious commitment to eliminating silent background services, giving users more control over their phone’s resources, and potentially enabling significant gains in battery life
  • Increased machine learning/neural network integration for text selection and recognition
  • A potential neural network API that allows third-party plugins
  • Android Go, a scaled-down version of Android tuned for budget phones in developing markets


There’s too much information about each of the points to discuss here, but I encourage anyone interested in Android development to check out the article. Just be warned that when they say “thorough,” they mean it, so it’s not exactly a quick read.

Right now, Oreo is available on only the Google Pixel and Pixel XL phones, and will not likely be available to most users until sometime next year. Even though widespread adoption is a way off, the sheer scale of the expected changes requires us to adopt a long-term development perspective.

We’ll continue to track developments in the Android world and keep the community informed about any impact that those changes may have on MobileXPRT and BatteryXPRT. If you have any questions or suggestions for future XPRT/Android applications, let us know!

Justin

MobileXPRT: evaluate the performance of your Android device

We recently discussed the capabilities and benefits of TouchXPRT, CrXPRT, BatteryXPRT, and HDXPRT. This week, we’re focusing on MobileXPRT, an app that evaluates how well an Android device handles everyday tasks. Like the other XPRT family benchmarks, MobileXPRT is easy to use. It takes less than 15 minutes to run on most devices, runs relatable workloads, and delivers reliable, objective, and easy-to-understand results.

MobileXPRT includes five performance scenarios (Apply Photo Effects, Create Photo Collages, Create Slideshow, Encrypt Personal Content, and Detect Faces to Organize Photos). By default, the benchmark runs all five tasks and reports individual workload scores and an overall performance score.

MobileXPRT 2015 is the latest version of the app, supporting both 32-bit and 64-bit hardware running Android 4.4 or higher. To test systems running older versions of Android, or to test 32-bit performance on a 64-bit system, you can use MobileXPRT 2013. The results of the two versions are comparable.

MobileXPRT is a useful tool for anyone who wants to compare the performance capabilities of Android phones or tablets. To see test results from a variety of systems, go to MobileXPRT.com and click View Results, where you’ll find scores from many different Android devices.

If you’d like to run MobileXPRT:

Simply download MobileXPRT from MobileXPRT.com or the Google Play Store. The full installer package on MobileXPRT.com, containing both app and test data, is 243 MB. You may also use this link to download the 18 MB MobileXPRT app file, which will download the test data during installation. The MobileXPRT user manual provides instructions for configuring your device and kicking off a test.

If you’d like to dig into the details:

Check out the Exploring MobileXPRT 2015 white paper. In it, we discuss the MobileXPRT development process and details of the individual performance scenarios. We also explain exactly how the benchmark calculates results.

If you’d like to dig even deeper, the MobileXPRT source code is available to members of the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community, so consider joining today. Membership is free for members of any company or organization with an interest in benchmarks, and there are no obligations after joining.

If you haven’t used MobileXPRT before, give it a shot and let us know what you think!

Justin

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