Accelerating Android Emulators

Out of the box, Google Android Emulators are prohibitively slow. Several technologies are available to significantly speed them up so that they can be used effectively. We support several techniques you can use to improve the Android emulation performance:

  • Visual Studio Android Emulator - Visual Studio 2015 includes a built-in Android player which runs under Hyper-V. If you are running in the Windows environment on a physical machine which supports Hyper-V, this is a good alternative.
  • Intel HAXM Drivers - The Intel HAXM Drivers provide hardware acceleration for x86 based Android SDK emulators on Intel VT-enabled sytems. The HAXM drivers are free to use and published by Intel. If you plan to exclusively use the Google emulators, you should make sure to install these drivers as they are a requirement for the latest version of the emulator.

Setting Up Your Google Android Emulator with the Intel Hardware Accelerated Execution Manager (HAXM)

  1. Launch Visual Studio for Mac.

  2. From the Tools menu, choose Android SDK Manager.

    Select the Android SDK Manager from the Tools menu in Visual Studio

  3. In the SDK Manager, make sure you have installed the x86 Atom System Image for the desired Android SDK version. If needed, select it and install the package, agreeing to the license as needed. The image will download and install. At this point, you can build x86 Android Virtual Device versions by selecting the appropriate CPU/ABI choice when creating the device, but they will not be accelerated. If you have any Android Virtual Devices running, close them before continuing.

    Install the x86 images for the desired Android SDK versions.

  4. From the Intel website, download the latest HAXM virtualization engine. If you are running Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks or Windows 8.1, you will want the appropriate hotfix version that corrects issues on these systems. While the links appear to have been temporarily removed, they are still accessible directly from the original links: HAXM hotfix for OS X 10.9 and HAXM hotfix for Windows 8.1.

  5. Install the HAXM engine, following along with the dialogs.

    Proceed with the HAXM install by following the installation instructions.

  6. If you haven't already created an x86 Android Virtual Device, do so now from the Android Virtual Device Manager (accessible in Visual Studio from the Tools menu by selecting Open Android Emulator Manager).

    Create an x86 Android Virtual Device

  7. After you have a device defined, in the Virtual Device Manager, select it and click Start. Adjust any launch options and Launch it. After several seconds, your accelerated Android Virtual Device will be running.

  8. From Visual Studio, deploy your project and pick your new x86 emulator device as the target.

    Deploy from Visual Studio by starting or selecting a running x86 device emulator.

NOTE: HAXM run simultaneously with VirtualBox can cause stability issues. Both can exist together on the same machine, but it is best not to run both VirtualBox and HAXM-based emulators at the same time.

Gestures in the Android Emulator

The Android SDK Emulator supports two-finger gestures by holding the OPTION (Alt) key and then using the mouse.