Emulator for Studio

In case you suffered from I|O overload last week and missed this, both
XDA Developers
and Android Police
pointed out that Google now offers an official Chrome OS emulator for Android Studio.

Mostly, this comes in the form of a new emulator image. That image is not hosted
by the standard SDK sites, so the instructions point out how to
add the Chrome OS SDK sites
to your SDK Manager. From there, you will be able to create an AVD based on a
Chrome OS image.

Here are some things that I noticed when I tried it out:

  • The EULA has some quirky terms. There were no show-stoppers from my standpoint,
    and I am fairly sensitive to that sort of thing. However, the terms feel like
    they were copied and pasted from something else (Android Things Console?) without
    actually updating them for the scenario.

  • You will need to download that emulator image, probably when you go to create
    the AVD. Even though the Android environment on Chrome OS runs an API level for
    which you may already have an image, that image is for plain Android, not Chrome OS.
    It may have been my imagination, but this download took longer
    than I would have expected.

  • As is noted in the documentation and those blog posts, you need to log in
    with a Google account to be able to run Android apps. It is unclear what the
    technical reason for this is, particularly in an emulator. However, it does
    faithfully emulate the Chrome OS environment, as you need to have a Google account
    in order to use a Chrome OS device anyway.

  • Also, I needed to go into Chrome OS’ Settings app and enable the Play Store.
    Before this, when I tried to run an app from Android Studio onto the Chrome OS emulator, it showed up
    as “[offline]”. It is possible that there was something else odd about my environment
    that was the source of my difficulty. But, if you run into the same “[offline]”
    state, try enabling the Play Store.

  • For basic confirmation that your app works – freeform resizable
    windows – the emulator seems fine. For fine-grained details of the user experience,
    particularly for keyboard and mouse input, I still recommend testing on hardware.
    However, the emulator might be a nice option for CI servers.

Need an Android programming guide for your development team? An Enterprise Warescription to The Busy Coder’s Guide to Android Development is available for teams of + members. Contact Mark Murphy for details.


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