Screen shot 2011-01-27 at 9.14.53 AM_wm

The Honeycomb SDK preview, allowing everyone to take a peek and play around with Honeycomb using the Android emulator, was launched yesterday, but after we got past the initial excitement, we found that the emulator itself was dog slow and pretty much unusable. In fact, it was so frustrating to use it that I wanted to punch walls and rip out my hair after 5 minutes with it. And I'm not even going to talk about orientation problems - how the Android team managed to ship the SDK with orientation broken by default (there is a fix for it in the Settings > Display) is beyond me and beyond the scope of this article. We're not the only ones who noticed - Engadget's own hands-on says "Honeycomb's is extremely slow -- nearly to the point of uselessness in this case."

So, can we expect better performance out of this clunker soon? After looking around, I found this promising tidbit in the SDK Tools r9 release notes:

Known issues with emulator performance: Because the Android emulator must simulate the ARM instruction set architecture on your computer, emulator performance is slow. We're working hard to resolve the performance issues and it will improve in future releases.

Furthermore, to confirm the above, I've posted a question to StackOverflow, following Reto Meier's suggestion. His response:

The short answer is "yes". The Honeycomb emulator performance will be improved in future release of the development tools.

For right now, you should start by increasing the amount of device RAM used by the emulator. The default is 256Mb but 1Gb is probably more reasonable.

Additionally, there have been reports that by lowering the resolution of the emulator, you will gain quite a large performance boost.

At this point, I think we might as well do both of the above and hope Google is taking the issue seriously (when they're not busy putting in Easter eggs).

Screen shot 2011-01-27 at 9.14.53 AM_wm

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • Kane

    I hope it's just limited to the emulator and not actual devices, which actually seems to be the case. With a Feb release however they better hurry up or they'll have frustrated developers and no apps.

    • Mike

      Maybe you missed the bit about the reason for the slowdown being the emulator emulating ARM instructions. The emulator has never been that fast but either way there is no reason to assume that Honeycomb itself is a dog from this.

      • Kane

        I didn't miss that, which is why I said "which actually seems to be the case" - sorry, I may have been too vague here.

  • Quinn

    I think you missed the work "Preview" in the title of the release.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Actually, I didn't but the main reason Google released it early is for developers to start porting their apps and making new apps specifically on Honeycomb. The fact that I want to punch a wall doesn't make me want to start developing anything at all and only frustrates me instead.

  • PhineasJW

    I can only guess Google is under *enormous* pressure to get Honeycomb finished by the time the Xoom ships (4-6 weeks), because shipping the SDK with broken emulator orientation would normally be considered a fairly stupid thing to do.

    • three_pineapples

      Wasn't the "broken orientation" just Engadget being retarded? Pretty sure they updated their article saying they'd made it work correctly.

      If you read it somewhere else, chances are they were being equally silly.

      • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

        No, Engadget wasn't being retarded - orientation was indeed broken and easily noticeable upon first boot of the emulator. They found a workaround, which is how they made it work correctly, so the SDK is definitely in the wrong here.

  • http://www.teamaguilar.com REO

    Isn't a new thing, the simulator (even 2.2) it's slow on a core 2 too. Maybe they want devs to purchase a device before development :)

  • droid2fun

    I stumbled upon a site for a software called youwave. It says that it has a faster android emulator. I haven't tried it yet. But from some posts I googled out, I see that is the case. I wonder why google cannot make it faster but an unknown software can do it?

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      I've tried it out, thanks. It is indeed much faster than the SDK emulator, though it sports a horribly ugly layout. Additionally, it doesn't support native ARM code, which is what makes it so fast - it doesn't have to emulate everything, which effectively turns it into a simulator with incomplete functionality. The SDK emulator emulates ARM fully, which is what makes it so slow. We just have to wait for the Android team to optimize the emulation layer.

  • Tyler Johnson

    There is a fix to the orientation problems, run the emulator and hit CTRL+F12 and then go to settings and turn off auto orientation. Hope that helps!