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Configure On-Device Developer Options

The developer options feature on Android devices lets you configure system behaviors that help you profile and debug your app performance. For example, you can enable debugging over USB, run a quick bug report, keep mobile data active for fast network switching, enable visual feedback for taps, flash window surfaces when they update, use the GPU for 2D graphics rendering, and more.

Enable developer options

Figure 1. Developer options

On Android 4.2 (API level 17) and higher, the Developer options screen is hidden by default. To make it available, do the following:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll to the bottom and select About phone.
  3. Scroll to the bottom and tap Build number 7 times.
  4. Return to the previous screen to find Developer options near the bottom.

For Android releases prior to 4.2, the Developer options screen is available by default.

At the top of the Developer options screen, you can toggle the options on and off (figure 1). When off, most options are disabled except those that don't require communication between the device and your development computer. For example, you can run a bug report, unlock the bootloader, run services, convert to file encryption, use demo mode, and more.

If you want to deploy your app project to your device from Android Studio, you should also read Run Apps on a Hardware Device.

General options

Tap Take bug report to get a copy of the current device log files to share with someone. After a moment you get a notification that the bug report is ready (figure 2). To share the bug report, tap the notification.

Figure 2. The bug report is ready

Other general options include the following:


Figure 3. Debugging options enabled

Debugging options provide ways to configure on-device debugging, and to establish communication between the device and your development computer.

Enable USB debugging (figure 3) so your Android device can communicate with your development machine through Android Debug Bridge (adb). The Wait for Debugger option is unavailable until you use Select debug app to select the app to debug. If you enable Wait for Debugger, the selected app waits for the debugger to attach before it executes.

Other debugging options include the following:


Figure 5. Select USB Configuration

Networking options provide ways to configure Wi-Fi and DHCP settings.

Tap Select USB Configuration to specify how you want the computer to identify the device. As shown in figure 5, you can configure devices for charging only, to transfer files (MTP), to transfer pictures (PTP), to use your mobile internet on the PC (RNDIS), or to transfer audio or MIDI files.

The followng list describes other ways to configure Wi-Fi and DHCP setup:


Figure 6. Pointer location

Enable Show taps to display taps when you touch the screen. A circle appears under your finger or stylus and follows you as you move around the screen. A tap works like a pointer when you Record a Video on your device.

Enable Pointer Location to show the pointer (tap) location on the device with cross-hairs. A bar appears across the top of the screen to track the cross-hair coordinates (figure 6). As you move the pointer, the coordinates in the bar track the cross-hair location and the pointer path draws on the screen.


Figure 7. User interface constructions

Drawing options provide visual cues about the app's user interface and how it operates.

Enable Show Layout Bounds to show your app's clip bounds, margins, and other user interface constructions on the device, as shown in figure 7.

Other Drawing options include the following:

Hardware accelerated rendering

Figure 8. Deuteranomaly color space

Hardware accelerated rendering options provide ways to optimize your app for its target hardware platforms by leveraging hardware-based options such as the GPU, hardware layers, and multisample anti-aliasing (MSAA).

Tap Simulate color space to change the color scheme of the entire device UI. The options refer to types of color blindness. Choices are Disabled (no simulated color scheme), Monochromacy (black, white, and gray), Deuteranomaly (red-green), Protanomaly (red-green), and Tritanomaly (blue-yellow). Protanomaly refers to red-green color blindness with weakness in red colors, and Deuteranomaly (shown in figure 8) refers to red-green color blindness with weakness in green colors.

If you take screenshots in a simulated color space, they appear normal as if you hadn’t changed the color scheme.

Some other ways to leverage hardware-based options are the following:


Figure 9. Bar representation

Enable Disable USB audio routing to disable automatic routing to external audio devices connected to a computer through a USB port. Automatic routing can interfere with apps that are USB-aware.


Monitoring options provide visual information about app performance, such as long thread and GPU operations.

Tap Profile GPU rendering to see a visual representation of how hard the GPU is working. The rendering can be stored to a file or displayed on the screen as a bar, as shown in figure 9. For more information, see Profile GPU Rendering Walkthrough.


Figure 10. Set background process limits

App options help you understand how your app operates on the target device.

Tap Background process limit to set the number of processes that can run in the background at one time. Possible settings are shown in figure 10.

Tap Reset ShortcutManager rate-limiting during testing so background apps can continue to call shortcut APIs until the rate limit is reached again. For more information about shortcuts and rate limits, see ShortcutManager.

Enable Don't keep activities to increase battery life by destroying every activity as soon as the user leaves the activity's main view.

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