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Ask mobile developers who work with both iOS and Android, and you'll probably hear from more than a few of them that the Android emulator is lacking. From poor performance to inconsistencies, there have been no shortage of complaints about the tool developers are provided with to test their Android apps prior to testing them on a real device.
So Google is doing what you'd expect it to do and trying to improve its emulator.
Yesterday, Google's Android engineering team announced a number of improvements to the Android emulator that it hopes will help developers build and test their apps more efficiently. These improvements include:
- Improved CPU performance. Google says its new x86 system images and host drivers "offer significantly faster execution" of apps in the emulator.
- Built-in GPU support. Google says this provides for significant performance gains.
- A greater level of hardware feature emulation. Now, a tethered device's sensor and multi-touch inputs can be used with the emulator, with support for Bluetooth and NFC coming soon.
Needless to say, Android developers, particularly those left disappointed by the Android emulator in the past, will most likely welcome these improvements. Google, of course, will continue to need to make them, and make them much faster than it has in the past, if it hopes to keep developers on side.
The reality for platform companies hoping to compete in the app ecosystem today is that it's not just enough to provide developers with adequate tooling; developer experience is key. Developer experience covers everything from development tools like IDES and emulators to app store submission and revenue sharing, and with companies like Microsoft trying to be more developer-friendly, the bar for developer experience is only going higher.