Getting Started With Android Emulator Testing Of Mobile Apps

9 min read
16 February 2023

As there are 6.5 billion smartphone users worldwide, it's no surprise that the app development industry is reaching new heights. In light of this figure, it is also no shock that mobile app development has become one of the most competitive industries. In fact, it is one of the factors behind the increased use of mobile apps worldwide. And this is actually the point where an android emulator is needed.

Basically app testing is an integral part of any web or app development process that assures the app's stability, usability, functionality, and performance according to varying testing requirements to ensure an optimal user experience across various platforms. There is no doubt that robust testing is essential, but picking the suitable device is equally important.

Companies are adopting the best mobile device testing solutions to facilitate the development of mobile apps in a cost-effective and timely manner. One such company is LambdaTest which is getting quite popular for its mobile app testing services. LambdaTest is a cloud based continuous testing and test orchestration platform for automating Selenium, Cypress, Playwright and Puppeteer tests. With LambdaTest, it becomes easy to test mobile apps with Android emulators. Stay tuned for more insights about how emulators can be used to test mobile apps!

What are Emulators?

An emulator is a software application that simulates the hardware and software of the target device on the computer. To achieve this, they use binary translation to translate the Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) of the test target to that of the computer (you are using to perform the testing).

It is common for all processor families to write their own set of instructions, known as the ISA, which is written in Machine Language to allow them to develop their device configurations based on their knowledge of the device's behaviour and functionality. When you translate the target mobile device's ISA and create a virtual environment for testing, you can mimic the device's performance to test whether it will work effectively or not.

Note: IPhone emulators, Galaxy emulators, and Android emulators are widely used for software testing.

Primary Use Cases for Mobile Emulators

1. Local Development and Validation

For app development, debugging, and local validations, developers and testers use simulators and emulators on their local machines. As part of the basic installation of most IDEs for native applications, virtual device tools are included. An emulator is included with Android Studio, whereas Xcode offers a simulator. In the last few years, both have become stable and mature, and each has a range of advanced validation capabilities.

2. Continuous Integration Testing

Continuous integration (CI) testing is the primary use case for virtual device labs. Shift-left testing, or testing at the beginning of the development process, is being embraced more due to the increased adoption of DevOps and Agile methodologies. Development teams can increase test automation coverage by using frameworks aligned with developers' skills and tools, such as Espresso and XCUITest.

A test cloud provides a proper execution environment against which you can run these tests, making it ideal for testing. The automated tests can be run either in the pre-commit phase for fast validation before committing or merging code or periodically, providing updated information on recent code changes to the development teams.

Getting started with the emulator

You can test your app on various devices using the Android emulator virtually. Android Studio includes the emulator, so it doesn't need to be installed separately. Follow these basic steps to use the emulator, which are detailed in the following sections:

1. Verify that you have the system requirements

Using the Android Studio emulator requires a computer with at least the following specifications:

  1. 16 GB RAM

  2. 64-bit Windows, macOS, Linux, or Chrome OS operating system

  3. 16 GB disk space

Note: The emulator may still run without these specs, but it may not run smoothly.

2. Create an Android Virtual Device (AVD)

In the Android Emulator, the Android virtual device (AVD) specifies the Android version and hardware characteristics of the simulated device. Creating an AVD that models each device your app is intended to run is essential. The procedure for creating an AVD can be found at Create and manage virtual machines.

Many AVDs operate independently, each with a private storage area where the user's data, SD cards, etc., can be stored. Emulators generally store user data, SD card data, and cache in a specific directory for each AVD. The emulator starts by loading AVD directory data. This data includes user data and SD card data.

3. Run your app on the emulator

As soon as you have created an AVD, you can run an app in your project using the Android emulator:

  1. The target device menu allows you to select the AVD on which your app should run.

  2. Click Run. Initially, the emulator will take a few minutes to launch, but subsequent launches will use a snapshot and launch more quickly. See the troubleshooting guide if you encounter problems.

In installing your app on your AVD, you can run it on the device as you would run any other application. You will need to click Run or Apply Changes again if you want to deploy new changes after making them.

4. Wear OS pairing assistant

Using the Wear OS pairing assistant in Android Studio, you can test your app directly with Wear OS emulators through virtual or physical phones.

5. Navigate the emulator

If you want to mimic your finger on the touch screen while the emulator runs, you can use the emulator panel to perform common actions. Select menu items and input fields with your computer mouse, and click buttons and controls as if you were using a touchscreen. Typing characters and entering emulator shortcuts can be done through your computer keyboard.

What to look for in a mobile app testing tool?

When choosing a toolset to test mobile apps, here are some essential aspects/features to keep in mind.

  • A simple upload process

  • Android app testing on different devices

  • iOS app testing devices are available.

  • Debugging options in real-time

  • Experience with natives

  • Testing of geolocation

  • You can test any environment

  • Logs of testing

  • Tracking issues

  • Integrations

Free Mobile Device Emulators To Test Your Apps

1. Native Android Emulator

Android SDK has a virtual mobile device emulator that allows developers to run their applications without having a physical device. It supports different configurations of hardware capabilities and Android platforms so that developers can test their apps on various formats. There are other navigation keys and a screen on an emulator. Sensors like accelerometers also support this. It works like a physical device, except you can't make calls with it. Several debugging tools, such as simulating application interrupts (such as messages and phone calls), dropouts on data networks, and latency effects, are also included.

2. Jar of Beans Android Emulator

Using the Jelly Bean version of Android as a platform, Jar of Beans is supported by Intel Hardware Accelerated Execution Manager (HAXM) for hardware acceleration and performance improvements. A button in this tool enables you to install Jar of Beans apk files to test your applications. In addition to screen resolution, it provides developers with several configuration options.

3. BlueStacks Android Emulator

Bluestacks lets you run Android apps on Windows PCs or Macs using Android emulators. In addition, this tool allows you to install an apk file and test your application. To test your apps, you can also link them with Eclipse.

4. Windows Phone Emulator

An emulator is included with the Windows Phone SDK so that developers can test their apps on a virtual device. With 512 MB of memory allocated to the tool by default, you can test your apps for low-memory phones.

It is possible to test and run apps targeting Windows Phone OS 7.1 and later on an emulator for Windows Phone 8. This tool can test your apps for different screen resolutions. Many sensors can be tested, including cameras, GPS, accelerometers, multi-touch, NFC, and more.

5. Nokia S40 Emulator

Apps targeted at Nokia Asha 502 phones can be tested using the Nokia Asha SDK 1.2 simulator. With this emulator, developers can test their apps without having a physical device. In addition to full UI interaction, messaging, and networking, the emulator supports all of the major operating systems.

To Wrap Up

It is always a good idea to start using emulators. Despite this, emulators won't be able to match up to real devices because of limitations such as mobile device battery, camera, interruptions, and memory usage. Using a mixed approach to test on real devices and as simulators and emulators is advisable.

We should separate the test cases to avoid missing critical bugs while maintaining infrastructure costs. If you still have doubts, let us know in the comment section below. We’ll be more than happy to resolve your query as soon as possible.

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Alex 9K
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