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This chapter is from the book

Working with the Android Emulator

The Android emulator is probably the most powerful tool at a developer's disposal. It is important for developers to learn to use the emulator and understand its limitations.

The Android emulator is integrated with Eclipse, using the ADT plug-in for the Eclipse IDE.

Providing Input to the Emulator

As a developer, you can provide input to the emulator in a number of ways:

  • Use your computer mouse to click, scroll, and drag items (for example, side volume controls) onscreen as well as on the emulator skin.
  • Use your computer keyboard to input text into controls.
  • Use your mouse to simulate individual finger presses on the soft keyboard or physical emulator keyboard.
  • Use a number of emulator keyboard commands to control specific emulator states.

Exploring the Android System

If you're not already familiar with Android devices, now is a good time to learn your way around the Android system as users see it. Table 2.1 lists some important features of Android.

Table 2.1. Android System Screens and Features




Home screen

Default screen.

This is a common location for app widgets and live folders.


Dialer application

Built-in application for making and receiving phone calls.

Note that the emulator has limited phone features.


Messaging application

Built-in application for sending and receiving SMS messages.

Note that the emulator has limited messaging features.


Browser application

Built-in web browser.

Note that the emulator has an Internet connection, provided that your machine has one.


Contacts application

Database of contact information.


Application sliding drawer

Shows all installed applications.
From the Home screen, pull the gray sliding drawer tab to see all installed applications.


Settings application

Built-in application to configure a wide variety of "phone" settings for the emulator, such as application management, sound and display settings, and localization.


Dev Tools application

Built-in application to configure configure development tool settings.


Using Emulator Skins

Emulator features such as screen size, screen orientation, and whether the emulator has a hardware or soft keyboard are dictated by the emulator skin. The Android SDK supports a number of different skins which emulate various handset screen resolutions (the default being HVGA). The specific skins available depends on the target build platform. Determining the appropriate skin is part of the AVD configuration process.

Using SD Card Images with the Emulator

To save data with the emulator, there must be an SD card image configured. For example, you must have a properly configured SD card image to save media files like camera graphics and sound files to the emulator.

The most convenient way to create SD card images for use with the emulator is to create them as part of the AVD process, as you did in Hour 1. SD card images should be at least 9 MiB.

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