Fed Up of Slow Android Emulator? Try Genymotion (Windows, Mac and Linux)
Developing for Android has become significantly easier and better lately, especially since the recent Google I/O, which saw the release of Android Studio. However, there’s one thing that still sucks about it — the official Android emulator.
It is sluggish and it is slower than the slowest turtle on the planet. To give you an idea, I’ve never been able to boot it under 6 minutes on my laptop having less than stellar configurations. Simply put, it is a tool that no one likes to use.
The dreaded boot-up screen of the official emulator
A great ecosystem around a mobile platform requires a great development environment. Until the developers are provided with efficient tools, it’s tough to expect polished apps from them.
Installation & Getting Started
Genymotion is a cross platform android emulator. It can be used on Windows, Mac and Linux. We have tested the android emulator on a system running Windows 8. To use Genymotion, you will have to make a free account. Once the account is active, proceed and download the right package for you.
Genymotion requires Oracle VirtualBox 4.2.12 dependancies to run. Hence, if you do not have it pre installed just download the package including VirtualBox for Windows. If you download any other package without Virtual box installed, you will get ” Unable to load VirtualBox ” error.
Setting Up Genymotion
- First run of the emulator contains no Virtual device.
- You will need to sign in using Genymotion account in order to add virtual devices.
- Select the preferred device and download them. You can download as many device you want.
- Once your Virtual devices are downloaded, you can start them by selection any one of them and clicking on the play button on the emulator home screen. The device will boot up in no time.
Genymotion Features & Overview
Unlike the official emulator, Genymotion takes advantage of the x86 architecture virtualization and even supports OpenGL hardware acceleration. As a result, it performs incredibly fast — faster than even an actual Android device!
Why is it Fast? The major reason behind the slow performance of the official emulator is.. that it’s an emulator. An emulator, in its literal sense, pretends to run a software made for some platform and duplicates its functionalities on some other platform having a completely different hardware architecture. When you run an app in the emulator or execute some functionality, the code has to be first compiled to the emulator’s architecture (ARM), which takes time.
Genymotion, on the other hand, runs Android in a virtual environment inside Windows (or Mac and Linux) taking advantage of the parent machine’s hardware and doesn’t require Android packages to be re-compiled for it. On a contrast note, the iOS simulator and the Windows Phone emulator too run on virtual machines.
To talk about its other features, Genymotion also lets you control sensors including battery, GPS and accelerometer in a simulated manner. Developers whose apps take advantage of these sensors are going to find Genymotion incredibly useful. Support for Gyroscope, Light, Temperature and Rotation Vector are also on the way!
As one would expect, Genymotion supports ADB commands as well and comes pre-rooted.
Genymotion vs. a Real Device
While expecting Genymotion to be faster than the official Android emulator was completely acceptable, seeing it perform even faster than a real device was something hard to believe.
For testing purpose, I wrote a small app that’d connect to a database and insert 5 records in 250 cycles and ran it on both Genymotion and my Nexus 4. The app would finally display a Toast notification displaying the time it took to process the whole operation.
The outcome was staggering, not just because Genymotion took lesser time for execution, but because a virtual device performed faster (13.5%) than a real device, a feat. which we developers are not used to.
Genymotion vs. The Official Android Emulator
Unfortunately, the official Android emulator is refusing to run at my side anymore so that I could compare it with Genymotion. So, I guess this gives me another reason to ditch it and move over to Genymotion.
But the fact that Genymotion never took more than 30 seconds on average to boot up on my two year old laptop model* is enough to provide a reason for the switch.Download Genymotion (Windows, Mac and Linux)
Update: Genymotion requires hardware virtualization to be enabled in your PC. If you’re unable to start a virtual device, please check whether it is turned on for your PC or not by entering into BIOS (tutorial).
*yep. I’m an underpaid employee who still relies on his a dying laptop and my employers refuse to give me a promotion. If you’re reading this, please pass this message to them.