Debugging with the emulator is not our favorite way of debugging. Connect a phone to your computer and debugging is a lot better in our opinion. However, there are some moments, like for example recording gameplay, that you want to be able to use the Android Emulator. Here are some tips to speed up the emulator, alternatives and other usefull resources for your emulator.
Intel Atom Image
First of all, if you want speed, use the intel atom image of the Android version of your choice (HAXM based instead of QEMU, which basicly means hardware accelerated). It is a great deal faster. Intel Tutorial from Intel. Some results show a 4 times faster emulator.
The Android emulator takes a lot of time just to simply startup. Google has created the functionality of snapshots to overcome this problem. It just takes a snapshot of your emulator and then the next time instead of booting, it just loads that snapshot when you start the emulator. This only takes a few seconds, where the booting takes minutes. A great speedup!
When you create an AVD, just enable the snapshot by selecting the ‘snapshot’ checkbox.
We are now almost done. You have to start the emulator and make sure the following checkboxes are enabled:
From now on, restarting your emulator will be very quick!
Help from the GPU
The emulator does all the work in software mode which is very slow. Turning on the GPU help for OpenGL rendering speeds up the emulator a great deal!
Please note that snapshotting does not work in combination with this option!
At this point, the emulator should be much much faster. If this still is not enough, please look at some laternatives below.
As an alternative, you can use the Android_x86 images to simulate Android (very fast) instead of emulate the ARM processor (which is not that fast due to a lot of overhead). One thing to note with this alternative is that it can also be quicker then some phones. So it can run smoothly on this simulator but then on your phone it does not. Also some features of your phone do not always seem to work. Look up the info on the website of Android_x86 for details on the specific Android versions.
As an alternative you can install the application BlueStacks, it is an emulator without all the debugging features which makes it a bit faster and it is made so that you can play Android games on your PC at full speed. This makes it the ideal tools for recording gameplay on high resolution on your PC. Go to the BlueStacks website.
One of the main issues that developers encounter is the amount of different released phones that use Android. Here is a collection of a lot of phones to test on. Premade AVDs for debugging and test.