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Running Apps in the Android Emulator

The Android Emulator simulates a device and displays it on your development computer. It lets you prototype, develop, and test Android apps without using a hardware device. The emulator supports Android phone, tablet, Android Wear, and Android TV devices. It comes with predefined device types so you can get started quickly, and you can create your own device definitions and emulator skins.

The Android Emulator is fast, powerful, and feature-rich. It can transfer information faster than using a connected hardware device, speeding up the development process. The multi-core feature lets the emulator take advantage of multiple core processors on your development computer to improve emulator performance even more.


About the Android Emulator

You can launch an app on the emulator when you run your project, or you can drag an APK file onto the emulator to install it. As with a hardware device, after you install an app on a virual device, it remains until you uninstall or replace it. If needed, you can test how multiple apps, such as your own or system apps, work with each other.

Features for trying out your apps

You interact with the emulator just as you would with a hardware device, but using your mouse and keyboard, and emulator buttons and controls. The emulator supports virtual hardware buttons and touchscreens, including two-finger operations, as well as directional pads (D-pads), trackballs, wheels, and various sensors. You can dynamically resize the emulator window as needed, zoom in and out, change the orientation, and even take a screenshot.

When your app is running on the emulator, it can use the services of the Android platform to invoke other apps, access the network, play audio and video, accept audio input, store and retrieve data, notify the user, and render graphical transitions and themes. The emulator has controls that let you easily send incoming phone calls and text messages, specify the location of the device, simulate fingerprint scans, specify network speed and status, and simulate battery properties. The emulator can simulate an SD card and internal data storage; you can drag a file, such as a graphics or data file, onto the emulator to store it.

Android Virtual Device configurations

The emulator uses an Android Virtual Device (AVD) configuration to determine the look, functionality, and system image of the simulated device. AVDs let you define certain hardware aspects of your emulated devices and allow you to create many configurations to test different Android platforms and hardware permutations.

Each AVD functions as an independent device, with its own private storage for user data, SD card, and so on. When you launch the emulator with an AVD configuration, it automatically loads the user data and SD card data from the AVD directory. By default, the emulator stores the user data, SD card data, and cache in the AVD directory.

To create and manage AVDs, use the AVD Manager. For more information, see Managing Virtual Devices.

System images

The Android Emulator runs a full Android system stack, down to the kernel level, that includes a set of preinstalled apps (such as the dialer) that you can access from your apps. You can choose which version of the Android system you want to run in the emulator when creating AVDs.

The Android system images available through the AVD Manager contain code for the Android Linux kernel, the native libraries, the VM, and the various Android packages (such as the Android framework and preinstalled apps).

Dependencies and prerequisites

The Android Emulator has the following requirements:

  • Android Studio 2.0 or higher
  • SDK Tools 25.0.10 or higher
  • System requirements
  • Newly created AVDs to replace any AVDs for emulator 24.0.x or lower
  • Active network connection for certain operations, such as testing app features that require it
  • adb integration enabled through Tools > Android > Enable ADB Integration

What's not supported

The Android Emulator supports most features of a device, but doesn't include virtual hardware for:

  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • NFC
  • SD card insert/eject
  • Device-attached headphones
  • USB

The watch emulator for Android Wear doesn't support the Overview (Recent Apps) button, D-pad, and fingerprint sensor.

While most end users of phones and tablets tend to use earlier API levels, Android Wear and Android TV users tend to use the latest releases. Using recent releases can give you a better experience using the emulator.

Running an App in the Android Emulator

You can run an app from an Android Studio project. Or, you can run an app that's been installed on the emulator as you would run any app on a device.

To start the emulator and run an app in your project:

  1. Open an Android Studio project and select Run Run icon.
  2. The Select Deployment Target dialog appears.

    Select Deployment Target dialog
  3. If you receive an error or warning message at the top of the dialog, click the link to correct the problem or get more information.
  4. The No USB devices or running emulators detected warning means that you don’t currently have any emulators running, or any detected hardware devices connected to your computer. If you don’t have hardware devices connected to your computer, or any emulators running, you can ignore it.

    Some errors you must fix before you can continue, such as certain Hardware Accelerated Execution Manager (Intel® HAXM) errors.

  5. In the Select Deployment Target dialog, select an existing emulator definition, and then click OK.

    If you don’t see a definition you want to use, click Create New Emulator to launch the AVD Manager. After you define a new AVD, in the Select Deployment Target dialog, click OK.

    If you want to use this emulator definition as the default for your project, select Use same selection for future launches.

    The emulator launches and displays your app.

  6. Test your app in the emulator.
  7. You can use the features described in the following sections:

  8. To close the emulator, click Close Close icon.
  9. The emulator device stores the installed app so you can run it again, if needed. You need to uninstall an app to remove it. If you run the project again on the same emulator, it replaces the app with the new version.

Launching the Android Emulator Without Running an App

To start the emulator:

  1. Open the AVD Manager.
  2. Double-click an AVD, or click Run Run icon.
  3. The Android Emulator appears.

    While the emulator is running, you can run Android Studio projects and choose the emulator as the target device. You can also drag one or more APKs onto the emulator to install them, and then run them.

Use your computer mouse pointer to mimic your finger on the touchscreen; select menu items and input fields; and click buttons and controls. Use your computer keyboard to type characters and enter emulator shortcuts.

Feature Description
Swipe the screen Point to the screen, press and hold the primary mouse button, swipe across the screen, and then release.
Drag an item Point to an item on the screen, press and hold the primary mouse button, move the item, and then release.
Point to the screen, press the primary mouse button, and then release. For example, you could click a text field to start typing in it, select an app, or press a button.
Double tap Point to the screen, press the primary mouse button quickly twice, and then release.
Touch and hold Point to an item on the screen, press the primary mouse button, hold, and then release. For example, you could open options for an item.
Type You can type in the emulator by using your computer keyboard, or using a keyboard that pops up on the emulator screen. For example, you could type in a text field after you selected it.
Pinch and spread
Pressing Ctrl or Command (⌘) brings up a pinch gesture multi-touch interface. The mouse acts as the first finger, and across the anchor point is the second finger. Drag the cursor to move the first point.
Clicking the left mouse button acts like touching down both points, and releasing acts like picking both up.

Performing Basic Tasks in the Emulator

The panel on the right side of the emulator lets you perform various tasks. You can also drag files onto the emulator to install apps and download files.

Feature Description Keyboard Shortcut
Close icon
Close the emulator.
Minimize icon
Minimize the emulator window.
Resize Resize the emulator as you would any other operating system window. The emulator maintains an aspect ratio appropriate for your device. ⌘↑ and ⌘↓
Power icon
Click to turn the screen on or off.
Click and hold to turn the device on or off.
Volume Up
Volume Up icon
Click to view a slider control and turn the volume up. Click again to turn it up more, or use the slider control to change the volume.
Volume Down
Volume Down icon
Click to view a slider control and turn the volume down. Click again to turn it down more, or use the slider control to change the volume.
Rotate Left
Rotate Left icon
Rotate the phone 90 degrees counterclockwise.
Rotate Right
Rotate Right icon
Rotate the phone 90 degrees clockwise.
Take Screenshot
Take Screenshot icon
Click to take a screenshot of the device. The default save location is your computer desktop. To change the save location, select > Settings. The emulator creates a file with the name Screenshot_yyyymmdd-hhmmss.png using the year, month, day, hour, minute, and second of the capture, for example, Screenshot_20160219-145848.png.
Enter Zoom Mode
Enter Zoom Mode icon

Click so the cursor changes to the zoom icon:

  • Left-click the screen to zoom in by 25%, up to a maximum of about twice the screen resolution of the virtual device.
  • Right-click to zoom out.
  • Left-click and drag to select a box-shaped area to zoom in on.
  • Right-click and drag a selection box to reset to default zoom.
  • Ctrl-click to touch the screen while in zoom mode.

Click Enter Zoom Mode again to return to normal screen size.

While in zoom mode:
⌘↑ and ⌘↓
⇧⌘↑ and ⇧⌘↓
⇧⌘← and ⇧⌘→
Back icon
Return to the previous screen, or close a dialog box, an options menu, the Notifications panel, or the onscreen keyboard.
Home icon
Return to the Home screen. Press and hold to open the item specific to your API level.
Overview icon
(Recent Apps)
Tap to open a list of thumbnail images of apps you’ve worked with recently. To open an app, tap it. To remove a thumbnail from the list, swipe it left or right. This button isn't supported for Android Wear.
Menu Type the keyboard shortcut to simulate the Menu button, for example, to open the menu for the selected app.
More icon
Click to access other features and settings, described in the next table.
Install an APK Drag an APK file onto the emulator screen. An APK Installer dialog appears. When the installation completes, you can view the app in your apps list.The app didn’t install if a dialog appears that says “APK failed to install.”
Add a file Drag any file onto the emulator screen. It’s placed in the /sdcard/Download directory. Navigate to the file using the method for the API level. For example, for API 22, this is the navigation path: Settings > Device: Storage & USB > Internal Storage > Explore (Virtual SD Card).
Toggle trackball mode F6

Working With the Extended Controls, Settings, and Help

The extended controls let you send data, change device properties, control apps, and more. To access the controls, select in the emulator panel and then select the option you want in the left panel of the Extended Controls dialog.

Feature Description Keyboard Shortcuts

The emulator lets you simulate “my location” information: the location where the emulated device is currently located. For example, if you click My Location My Location icon in Google Maps and then send a location, the map shows it.

To send a GPS location:

  1. Select Decimal or Sexagesimal.
  2. Specify the location.
  3. In decimal mode, enter a Latitude value in the range -90.0 to +90.0 degrees and a Longitude value in the range -180.0 to +180.0 degrees.

    In sexigesimal mode, enter a three-part Latitude value in the range -90 to +90 degrees, 0 to 59 minutes, and 0.0 to 60.0 seconds. Enter a Longitude value in the range -180 to +180 degrees, 0 to 59 minutes, and 0.0 to 60.0 seconds.

    For the latitude, - indicates south and + indicates north; for the longitude, - indicates west and + indicates east. The + is optional.

    Optionally specify an Altitude value in the range -1,000.0 to +10,000.0 meters.

  4. Click Send.

To use geographic data from a GPS exchange format (GPX) or Keyhole Markup Language (KML) file:

  1. Click Load GPX/KML.
  2. In the file dialog, select a file on your computer and click Open.
  3. Optionally select a Speed.
  4. The speed defaults to the Delay value (Speed 1X). You can increase the speed by double (Speed 2X), triple (Speed 3X), and so on.

  5. Click Run Run icon.

The emulator lets you simulate various network conditions. You can approximate the network speed for different network protocols, or you can specify Full, which transfers data as quickly as your computer allows. Specifying a network protocol is always slower than Full. You can also specify the voice and data network status, such as roaming. The defaults are set in the AVD.

Select a Network type:

  • GSM - Global System for Mobile Communications
  • HSCSD - High-Speed Circuit-Switched Data
  • GPRS - Generic Packet Radio Service
  • EDGE - Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution
  • UMTS - Universal Mobile Telecommunications System
  • HSPDA - High-Speed Downlink Packet Access
  • Full (default)

Select a Voice status, Data status, or both:

  • Home (default)
  • Roaming
  • Searching
  • Denied (emergency calls only)
  • Unregistered (off)

You can simulate the battery properties of a device to see how your app performs under different conditions. To select a Charge level, use the slider control.

Select a Charger connection value:

  • None
  • AC charger

Select a Battery health value:

  • Good (default)
  • Failed
  • Dead
  • Overvoltage
  • Overheated
  • Unknown

Select a Battery status value:

  • Unknown
  • Charging (default)
  • Discharging
  • Not charging
  • Full

The emulator lets you simulate incoming phone calls and text messages. Note that the information flow is one way, from the control to the emulator. For example, the control doesn’t change its state if the emulator hangs up; you need to end the call in the control.

To initiate a call to the emulator:

  1. Select or type a phone number in the From field.
  2. Click Call Device.
  3. Optionally click Hold Call to put the call on hold.
  4. To end the call, click End Call.

To send a text message to the emulator:

  1. Select or type a phone number in the From field.
  2. Type a message in the SMS message field.
  3. Click Send Message.
Directional Pad

If the AVD has the directional pad enabled in the hardware profile, you can use the directional pad controls with the emulator. However, not all devices can support the directional pad; for example, an Android watch. The buttons simulate the following actions:

Directional Pad Control

This control can simulate 10 different fingerprint scans. You can use it to test fingerprint integration in your app. This feature isn't supported for Android Wear.

To simulate a fingerprint scan on the virtual device:

  1. Prepare an app to receive a fingerprint.
  2. Select a Fingerprint value.
  3. Click Touch Sensor.

You can specify the following settings:

  • Emulator window theme - Select Light or Dark.
  • Send keyboard shortcuts to - By default, some keyboard combinations will trigger emulator control shortcuts. If you’re developing an app that includes keyboard shortcuts, such as one targeted at devices with Bluetooth keyboards, you can change this setting to send all keyboard input to the virtual device, including input that would be a shortcut in the emulator.
  • Screenshot save location - Click the folder icon to specify a location to save screenshots of the emulator screen.
  • Use detected ADB location - If you're running the emulator from Android Studio, you should select this setting (the default). If you run the emulator from outside Android Studio and want it to use a specific adb executable, deselect this option and specify the SDK Tools location. If this setting is incorrect, features such as drag-and-drop app install and file copy, and screenshot capture, won't work.
  • When to send crash reports - Select Always, Never, or Ask.
Help > Keyboard Shortcuts

See the keyboard shortcuts that the emulator accepts. For the shortcuts to work, you need to:

  • Select Settings > Send keyboard shortcuts to > Emulator controls (default).
Help > Emulator Help

To go to the online documentation for the emulator, click Documentation.

To file a bug against the emulator, click File a Bug.

To make suggestions, click Send Feedback.

All of these links require an internet connection and a browser.

Help > About

See which adb port the emulator uses, as well as the Android and emulator version numbers. Compare the latest available emulator version with your version to determine if you have the latest software installed.

The emulator serial number is emulator-adb_port, which you can specify as an adb command line option, for example.