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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, sliding 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 how Android devices work, now is a good time to learn your way around Android devices as users see them. Keep in mind that we're focusing on the "Google experience" or the "Google Android" user interface here, as opposed to the specific user interface changes and additions made by some device manufacturers and carriers.

Table 2.1 lists some important features of Android devices. The features described in this table apply to the traditional smartphone UI most users are familiar. The Android 3.0/3.1 release (which was tablet-centric) introduced a new holographic UI design, which has similar features.

Table 2.1. Android System Screens and Features




Home screen

Default screen.

This is a common location for app widgets and live folders. You will also find a quick launch bar for the Dialer (02figem09.jpg) and Browser (02figem10.jpg) applications as well as the Application menu.


Dialer application

Built-in application for making and receiving phone calls.

Note: The emulator has limited phone features.


Messaging application

Built-in application for sending and receiving SMS messages.

Note: 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.

Leveraged by many applications on the platform for sharing purposes. Consider adding some "test contacts" to your favorite emulator AVD instance for easy development and testing.


Application menu

Shows all installed applications.

From the Home screen, click the Application menu button (02figem11.jpg) 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 development tool settings.


Using SD Card Images with the Emulator

If you want to transfer files to your emulator instance (running a specific AVD) then you likely want to use the SD card image associated with that AVD to store those files. The same holds true for downloading content such as images using the Browser application.

To copy file data to a specific instance of the emulator, use the File Explorer tab of the DDMS perspective to push or pull files. For developers, most file transfers occur either between the /mnt/sdcard directories, or to and from specific application's directory (for example, /data/data/com.androidbook.droid1).

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