Noticing more and more people testing their websites & web applications on mobile devices, which is great!. I guess people are starting to follow the Mobile First principal. However, often hear complaints about the crappy performance of the Android emulator. The good news is that there is a way to significantly improve the performance! This can be done by enabling hardware virtualisation. My emulator went from almost unusable to device like performance. The bad news, only certain Android versions (2.3 & 4.0.3) support it at the moment (Google has said they will add support for 4.1), also requires that your computer supports hardware virtualisation.

A step by step guide.

First need to install Android SDK 15 (version 4.0.3) and Intel x86 system image. Note, you have to install the ARM system image as well or you will run into an error when trying to start your emulator image.

Next scroll to the bottom of the list and install the “Intel x86 Emulator Accelerator (HAXM)”.

Now click the “Install 4 Packages” button. In the Packages list, select each of the 4 packages and select “Accept”. Finally click “Install”.

All the packages will now start downloading, this will take a few minutes.

Once that is completed, we have to install the Intel Emulator accelerator. Goto your Android SDK folder. Then goto your Adnroid SDK folder and extras\intel\Hardware_Accelerated_Execution_Manager\ and launch the “IntelHaxm.exe” installer.

Follow the onscreen instructions. If you get an error here then your computer does not support hardware acceleration. If this happens, you can check your BOOT menu to see if it has been disabled in your BIOS.

Once installed, goto back to the Android SDK Manager and to the menu bar and select Tools -> Manage AVDs. Create a new AVD and ensuring that CPU / ABI setting is set to “Intel Atom (x86)”.

Start your new emulator!

In the loading screen you should see a message saying HAX (Hardware Acceleration) is working.

First time the emulator runs it is always a little slow, but once booted, it should be much faster!


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