Android Emulator now with better hardware support, rejoice any developer

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The Android emulator is instrumental for developers developing apps. It allows for testing of the applications on the PC rather than on phones which most upcoming developers struggle to afford. The Android emulator has been difficult to update these days with all the growing power and diversity of Android devices.

Google have announced several significant improvements to the emulator, including a dramatic performance upgrade and support for a broader range of hardware features, notably sensors and multi-finger input.

Here are some highlights of the new Android Emulator:

Added GPU Support

Android‘s growing reliance on GPU’s has compelled Google to add GPU support on the emulator.  In the video below, the emulator is still interpreting ARM instructions; the performance boost is the effect of putting the GPU to work.

Since Android has now supported OpenGL on devices, the emulator now supports OpenGL too.

Added Hardware Emulation

The hardware features of mobile devices are a significant part of what makes them a unique platform for development, so Google announced that in addition to the camera support added last year, it’s now possible to use a tethered Android device to supply inputs for sensors and multi-touch input.

The Android team is also looking to provide emulator support for more hardware features including Bluetooth and NFC in the near future.

Improved CPU performance

Hardware floating point operation has been available for system images since Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), allowing CPU operations to be emulated roughly twice as quickly.

Last week’s r17 developer tools release included x86 system images and host drivers (available through the SDK Manager), allowing the emulator to access the host CPU natively and offer significantly faster execution.

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