The Android SDK isn't something that normal users see all that often (except perhaps when they're unlocking the bootloader on a new phone), but developers still rely on it heavily. One of the components included in the collection of desktop tools is Google's first-party Android emulator. It's a way of running a simplified version of Android software on a computer for the purpose of testing apps. And as cool as that sounds, it's also kind of a hassle - like all emulators, it's significantly slower than using Android on native hardware. But that's changing with the latest release, at least according to Google.

The February '17 revision of Android's SDK tools, version 25.3, includes a host of new and improved functions specifically within the emulator. In addition to IPV6 compliance, better sound support, GLES 2.0 compatibility, and various other tweaks, Google says that the new version of Android Pipe makes the communication between the emulator program and the Android software hosted on it "order[s] of magnitude" faster than it was before. ADB data access, 3D acceleration, and just about everything else should be dramatically faster in the latest update.

Developers can access the latest version of the emulator by downloading SDK Tools 25.3, either as a full manual download or using the download manager already installed on their PCs. Have fun playing Angry Birds at full speed on your desktop for the first time ever.

First release upon separating the emulator from SDK Tools in the Canary and Dev channel. There have been changes to SDK Tools 25.3 which is also released to the Canary channel with this Emulator update.

Dependencies:
  • Android SDK Platform-tools revision 24 or later.
  • Android SDK tools 25.3.0
New Android Emulator features and Bug Fixes:
  • IPV6 support
  • Swiftshader as a pure software renderer on the host
  • Improved pipe performance - Android Pipe, the main communication channel between the emulator and Android OS, is much (order of magnitude) faster, has lower latency and has better threading performance (especially noticeable on x64 images). This improves ADB push/pull speed, 3D acceleration support and overall responsiveness of the emulator.
  • Fully GLES 2.0 compliant. Given a host GPU that has conformant desktop OpenGL drivers, the emulator now passes 100% of CTS dEQP-GLES2 must-pass.
  • Improved audio support
  • Improved video playback performance. The emulator now stores all video color buffers in host/guest shared memory and performs any needed final YUV->RGB conversion in the GPU. 1080p30 (even 60) should be well within reach of most systems now. (but only when new images are released)
  • Faster disk IO - Emulator now uses separate thread to dispatch disk IO, resulting in much lower latency and improved throughput (~1.5x sequential, ~5x random access).
  • Improved graphics performance. Android Pipe improvements have also increased graphics performance! In addition, the emulator will use GPU-side buffers (glBindBuffers / glBufferData) when the guest requests them, decreasing CPU overhead in some apps. More to come when new system images are released.
  • Various GUI enhancement