Amazon Web Services Announces Amazon AppStream
Today at AWS re:Invent, Amazon Web Services Inc., an Amazon.com company (AMZN), announced Amazon AppStream, a new service that provides developers with the ability to stream resource intensive applications, such as 3D games or interactive HD applications, from the cloud. With Amazon AppStream, content is rendered in the cloud, yet the end-user is still able to enjoy a responsive, fluid and high-definition experience on their device. Amazon AppStream allows developers the flexibility to stream their entire application, or only the parts of their application that need additional cloud resources. To learn more about Amazon AppStream, visit http://aws.amazon.com/appstream/.
Developers struggle with the hardware constraints of client devices when building end user applications. Mass-market devices, such as tablets, phones and lightweight laptops, are limited in the amount of power, CPU, and memory available for developers to create their apps and games. As a result, resource-intensive apps and games can only be accessed from expensive and high-powered PCs or game consoles. This means developers must restrain the types of experiences they create (3D or HD graphics, for example) if they are prioritizing mass-market devices. With Amazon AppStream, developers can create content that takes advantage of the vast compute and storage resources available in AWS, and then make their applications and games available on a full range of devices.
Amazon AppStream offers a number of benefits over running content locally, including:
- Removes compute and storage constraints - Developers leverage the compute power of AWS to deliver experiences that wouldn't normally be possible due to GPU, CPU, memory or physical storage constraints of local devices.
- Saves development time - With Amazon AppStream, developers can write all or part of their applications once, make changes on the fly, and render them on many devices, saving the cost of rewriting this code for different platforms.
- Instant-on delivery - Streaming applications eliminate large downloads and lengthy installs, and instead provides an instant-on experience for end-users.
- Simplifies updates - Because Amazon AppStream applications run on Amazon EC2, not on client devices, software updates are simpler, happen quickly, and are handled by the Amazon AppStream service. Many software updates will no longer require customer downloads, saving the developer the need to support legacy versions.
"Developers have told us that it is frustrating to build and deliver high-end applications for mass-market devices given their hardware constraints. They want to provide spectacular graphics, and responsive, fluid experiences to the largest possible audience regardless of the device a person chooses to use," said Mike Frazzini, General Manager of Amazon Games. "Amazon AppStream frees developers from these limitations by allowing them to stream their applications to low-end devices as if these consumers were using high-end devices."
Amazon AppStream includes an SDK that automatically connects streaming applications running in the cloud to customers' devices, simplifying the development process. The SDK also connects developers' applications to the Amazon AppStream STX Protocol, which manages the streaming process. This protocol monitors network conditions and automatically adapts the video stream to provide a low-latency and high-resolution experience to customers. It also minimizes latency during the process of capturing input from customers, such as mouse clicks or touch gestures, and sending it back to the application running in the cloud. The result is a responsive end-user experience for a wide variety of applications and network conditions.
Over twenty customers including Atomic Fiction, CCP, Digital Extremes, Embodee, Outerra, Relic, Tok.tv and Vanguard have been using the service in a private preview and have experienced improved development time and ability to stream to devices that had previously been out of reach.
CCP Games produces multi-player games including the popular EVE Online. "We've had many (wild) dreams about what the amazing character creation experience from EVE Online could become on a high-res touch device," said Halldor Fannar, CTO of CCP Games. "Amazon AppStream is allowing us to realize those dreams, enabling us to experiment and better understand the opportunity with only a minor up-front investment. There is a very exciting future here."
Outerra makes a 3D planetary rendering engine beginning with images from space down to the surface. "Our rendering technology quite heavily relies on features and power of modern high performance graphics processing units. As such, it would be impossible to run it directly on most of the existing mobile devices," said Brano Kemen, CEO of Outerra. "Amazon AppStream greatly enlarges our potential user base by allowing us to make the technology accessible through millions of these devices, while maintaining a uniform and scalable environment on the server side."
During limited preview, Amazon AppStream will be available in the US-East Region on the new Amazon EC2 G2 instance, allowing developers to leverage an extremely powerful GPU in their applications. In the coming months, additional regions and instance types will be available for Amazon AppStream applications. Amazon AppStream delivers a video stream up to 720p and 30 frames per second, and can run on connections of at least 3Mbps. Amazon AppStream supports streaming applications from Windows Server to multiple client platforms, including Windows, iOS, FireOS and Android. To learn more and sign up for the limited preview of Amazon AppStream, visit http://aws.amazon.com/appstream/.
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