What is Android Neural Network API?

Preview of interesting feature, that will be implemented in Android 8.1
27 October 2017   1614

Yesterday, Google started to seed to developers a new developer beta version (8.1) of Android Oreo.

The most interesting thing in 8.1 version is Neural Networks API. As Google assure, the Android Neural Networks API (NNAPI) is an Android C API designed for running computationally intensive operations for machine learning on mobile devices. NNAPI is designed to provide a base layer of functionality for higher-level machine learning frameworks (such as TensorFlow Lite, Caffe2, or others) that build and train neural networks. The API is available on all devices running Android 8.1 (API level 27) or higher.

On-device inferencing has many benefits:

  • Latency: You don’t need to send a request over a network connection and wait for a response. This can be critical for video applications that process successive frames coming from a camera.
  • Availability: The application runs even when outside of network coverage.
  • Speed: New hardware specific to neural networks processing provide significantly faster computation than with general-use CPU alone.
  • Privacy: The data does not leave the device.
  • Cost: No server farm is needed when all the computations are performed on the device.

Android Neural Network API architecture
Android Neural Network API architecture

There are also trade-offs that a developer should keep in mind:

  • System utilization: Evaluating neural networks involve a lot of computation, which could increase battery power usage. You should consider monitoring the battery health if this is a concern for your app, especially for long-running computations.
  • Application size: Pay attention to the size of your models. Models may take up multiple megabytes of space. If bundling large models in your APK would unduly impact your users, you may want to consider downloading the models after app installation, using smaller models, or running your computations in the cloud. NNAPI does not provide functionality for running models in the cloud.

This features can be very useful in situation like picture classify.

You can learn more at this page.

Canonical to Represent Minimal Ubuntu

New version of Ubuntu is created for servers, isolated containers based on Docker and cloud systems
12 July 2018   105

Ubuntu team presented a simplified version of the base image - Minimal Ubuntu. It is designed for servers, isolated containers based on Docker and cloud systems. The release features high performance, minimal load time and automation of applications in the cloud.

The small footprint of Minimal Ubuntu, when deployed with fast VM provisioning from GCE, helps deliver drastically improved boot times, making them a great choice for developers looking to build their applications on Google Cloud Platform.
 

Paul Nash

Group Product Manager, Google Cloud

The authors of the project emphasize the size of the distribution kit, which "weighs" 157 MB, and also supports the main cloud systems like Amazon EC2, Google Compute Engine (GCE), LXD and KVM / OpenStack, each of which has its own optimized version of the package. In addition, the OS-based image for operating with containers based on the Docker platform, compatible with the Kubernetes.

Minimal Ubuntu is designed for automated execution, so it includes only a minimal set of tools. The distribution can be upgraded to a set of Ubuntu Server packages using the special utility "unminimize", which returns components that are convenient for interactive management.

According to Canonical representatives, the deletion of the manual control functions resulted in the acceleration of the load time by 40% and the reduction of the occupied disk space by 50%. At the same time, this release remained completely compatible with all the packages from standard Ubuntu repositories. Required packages can be installed using the standard package manager apt or using snapd, which are included in the distribution by default.

Two assemblies are available for download, based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and 18.04 LTS. You can download them on the official website.