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Analysis of OpenGL ES on iOS

by - Aravindan A

What is OpenGL ES

OpenGL ES ( Open Graphics Library for Embedded Systems ) is a subset of the OpenGL , which is mainly designed for Embedded Systems.It is a cross language and a multiplatform API for rendering 2D and 3D vector graphics. The API is typically used to interact with a graphics processing unit (GPU), to achieve hardware accelerated rendering.

OpenGL ES in iOS

Apple has quietly begun introducing a series of frameworks that make developing games for its products easier with OpenGL at bottom.

They are,

  • Gl Kit

  • Sprite Kit

  • Scene Kit

Sprite Kit:

in iOS 7 Apple introduced "Sprite Kit", an exciting new High level framework for making 2D games(i.e), animated 2D objects that is buitt on top of OpenGL ES.

Sprite Kit vs Cocos2D-iPhone vs Cocos2D-X vs Unity :

  • If you are a complete beginner, or solely focused on iOS: Use Sprite Kit – it’s built in, easy to learn, and will get the job done.

  • If you need to write your own OpenGL code: Stick with Cocos2D or another option for now, as Sprite Kit does not currently support this.

  • If you want to be cross-platform: Choose Cocos2D-X or Unity. Cocos2D-X is nice because it’s "down to the wire", built for 2D games, and you can do just about anything you want with it. Unity is nice because it gives you more flexibility (i.e. you can add some 3D aspects into your game if you want), however you have to go through a few more hoops to make 2D games.

Scene Kit:

In iOS 8 Apple introduced "Scene Kit", an exciting new High level framework for making 3D animated scenes built on top of OpenGL ES.


In iOS 8 Apple introduced "Metal", a low level, low overhead hardware-accelerated 3D graphics Framwork which is a popriatory Framework.Metal is similar to OpenGL ES,but difference is that Metal is not cross platform. Instead, it is designed to be extremely efficient with Apple hardware, offering much improved speed and low overhead access to the GPU, compared to using OpenGL ES.

Analysis of OpenGL ES on iOS

Metal is available for devices using the Apple A7,Apple A8, and Apple A8X chips iPhone 5S, iPad Air, or iPad mini (2nd generation) and its succesors

as well as Macs (2012 models or later) running OS X El Capitan.

Use cases :

  • video editors

  • photo editors

  • audio editing software make use of the GPU