Friday, December 3, 2010

HOW TO: Android emulator on a windows tablet (With market support and apps!)

 

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I love android. ALOT. Ever since my first android phone, I’ve been fiddling around with this and that. But at some point, I hit the one little bump. Why is the screen so small?! Sure PDFs can be reflowed to fit the screen, but some PDF’s are just images of words, and that doesn’t work.

I’ve played with android on a desktop. But how will it go on a tablet pc which utilizes a touchscreen? How to install after the jump!

How to install the android emulator:

I followed the steps from here

Basically the steps are:

  1. Download the file in the above link and extract
  2. Run setup
  3. Download all the packages (the newest version of android is 2.2, so make sure you check that as well!)
  4. Create an AVD and configure the settings. NOTE: I found that selecting one of the predefined screen resolutions gives you that virtual keyboard. I manually put in the screen resolution to avoid this keyboard.

    You may also want to fiddle around with the hardware section which allows you to allocate larger SD card sizes and ram.

Obviously, that list I did is a much cut down version of the link, please follow the full steps in the link if you do not know what is happening!

The emulator:

To start your android:

  1. Run the “android.bat” file in the tools folder
  2. Select one of the AVDs you made and select start.
    android menu
  3. You’ll be provided options to scale the screen, put in details to your desire, you may want full screen (so type in the size of your physical screen) or half
    options
  4. Once started (first boot takes a while), you’ll be presented with the stock android lockscreen:
     lockscreen

Android users will probably see this is different to the android they have on their phones, this is because: a) There is no Google apps pre-installed b) you may have a skin from the phone manufacturer (e.g Sense from HTC, touchwiz from Samsung etc etc.). In the next section I’ll tell you how I got Google apps and some apps from my phone.

Getting Google apps (G-apps) and (limited) market access

To me complete stock android was pretty plain (and in some cases useless), once you get g-apps, you’ll have a bit more functionality in this emulator.

First off there is one method I bumped into myself from trial and error and one that is talked about online (only recently). 

What I did was:

  1. Download the latest G-apps package from Cyanogen here (they are referred to as Google Add-on)
  2. Once downloaded, open the zip file and navigate to the system>app. Extract all this to another easily accessible location.
  3. Now open a command prompt: press “windows button + R”, type in “cmd”
    r
  4. You’ll need to navigate to where you installed your android emulator. A simple way to do this is to go to where you installed the SDK emulator by the files:
    navigate 
    Your files might be in a different location depending on where you installed it. Now click the address bar and copy the file location.

    type in “cd” then right click to paste the file location (press enter and you’ll be in the new file location):
    cmd
  5. Now we need to see if we’ve done this correctly, Run your emulator (shown in above section). After it has boot up to the lockscreen, type in: “adb devices” into the command prompt. You should see something like this:
    devices 

    If it gives you something else, try running it again
  6. If step 5 works for you you can now start installing apps! all you need to do is type in “adb install” and drag and drop the apk file from the G-apps package downloaded earlier.
    installing 
    Press enter and it should install and display “success”

    Its quite tedious, but it didn’t take me too long :)
  7. Now install all the apk files in app folder (twitter didn’t work for me…)
  8. Close the emulator and open it again. Upon start up you should be given the option of “launcher” or “setup”

    Press setup and you’ll run through the set up process on an android phone! Google sync and apps should work fine too

I haven’t tried the other option yet, but I’ll try that later on and update any differences I find.

Installing other apps

To install other apps, you could try to navigate to the market and browse for apps. However, the market (for me) was very limited and only had few apps (NO ANGRY BIRDS!!!)

Some apps have their own webpage and offer apks directly (e.g. launcherpro), so googling the app might help for some apps. XDA is a good site also.

If you are unable to find the app on the market OR the net, you can make your own from back ups.

Creating apks by backup in ASTRO

If you have an android phone you can create apks from apps downloaded from the market.

First you will need to download Astro (file manage) from the android market.

Once you have that downloaded and installed:

  1. Open astro:
    20101202_125210
  2. Press the menu button:
    20101202_125222
  3. Select “tools”:
    20101202_125226
  4. Select “App manager/backup” (first option):
    20101202_125328 
  5. Tick the boxes of the apps you wish to install and then select “backup”.
  6. All the backups created are on the sd card root directory under the name “backup”

Putting this altogether on a windows tablet…

So after doing all this on my windows tablet, I was able to get android running with a few useful apps. Let me share my experiences with you!

Hardware

The tablet I used was a Toshiba M750, it runs on the Centrino 2 processor, which managed fine in high performance mode. I also did this on my desktop which had an i7 and there was almost no lag :)

The screen is a resistive touchscreen and active digitizer, so note taking is possible! There are buttons under the screen, so you can program these to be the back, menu and home buttons (by default the back button works so does the joystick)

The only thing wrong here was: Running this is high performance really taxes my battery life (maximum of 5 hours, running this only gives me 2.5 hours)

Its slower than the nexus one, and has less battery life…

Emulator in general

Here’s a list of often used buttons:

  • The back buttons is esc on the keyboard
  • F2 is the menu button
  • F4 is the power/lock button
  • Ctrl + F11 rotates the orientation
  • Not too sure where the search button is (think it was F3?? Not sure, don’t use it often)

At first, I made my emulator screen resolution the same as the resolution of my computer. This made it lag a bit.

So then I half the resolution then scaled the size up in the options, now the lag is less and the emulator is usable!

Internet access works straight away! The browser works too (though slower than on a phone and even slower than browsers on windows)

I often had uninstall apps to make way for new ones… There’s very little internal space!

G-apps

Bundled in the G-apps package was: Gmail, Google calendar, the market, facebook, map/navigation and twitter (remind me if I’ve missed any)

gmail market

Most of them work well, the sync is working so all this is synced with all my normal Google stuffs. Twitter didn’t install and I didn’t use another apk cause I don’t use twitter.

One main problem with G-apps (probably in general) was that it was not able to detect my location (therefore, maps only work with searching). I had to manually select a location for the apps

map news

The market does not update any of the installed apps :( you’ll need to install the new apks

Other apps I installed

I also installed the following apps:

  • Beautiful widgets
  • Kindle for android
  • Note everything
  • Engadget widget
  • Angry birds
  • Monkey kickball
  • colour changing live wallpaper

Despite the fact that the market was limited in apps, beautiful widgets showed up in the list since I purchased this app. It seems to be an older version though, I just installed the newer apk from my phone. Weather effects work well (with a little lag)

R0013079

Kindle works fine, the books are syncing and it functions well in general

kindle1 kindle2

Note everything opens and loads ok, but when writing in the paint app/note with the active digitizer it lags a lot and does not register points often enough. Other paint only apps on the market seem to do a better job (Note everything (left), paint app (right)).

R0013081 R0013074

Angry birds DID NOT WORK at all on the screen resolution I had, just a blank screen.

However, making the screen resolution the same as the Nexus one made it HALF work. There was music, but the screen seems to be showing a section way off the screen

Monkey kickball worked, but lagged to the point where it was unplayable

Colour changing wallpaper works! I wanted to use the HTC sense wallpaper, but I can’t install the zip file in adb.

Miscellaneous

You can rotate the screen in the emulator to landscape (ctrl + f11). Since the keyboard also works, its great for typing up emails and stuff.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

My screen can only register one touch point at a time, I’m a little curious to see if newer tablets like the tm-2 can use multitouch in the emulator.

End note

R0013080

Overall the experience is much better than windows (touch friendly!), it does make my battery life worse, but its OK for what it can do.

Just a quick note of the bugs and limitations:

  • Poor battery life (cut mine in half from 5 hours to 2.5hours)
  • Slight lag
  • Android market is limited compared to the ones found on phones
  • Even with apps loaded, many are not optimised
  • Lockscreen required a press of the back button to work
  • Emulator is unable to detect location with wifi
  • Low internal storage space
  • I was not able to get root access using universal androot…

My real wish is to have this as the native os if possible (so that it won’t be running two OS at the same time, hopefully improving the battery life). Or maybe a dual boot option at least.

UPDATE: It seems the top viewed post on my blog at the moment is this post :) I’d like to let you know that Android 2.3 (GIngerbread is now available on the emulator!) Screenshots below (I’ve these in landscape cause I’m away from my usual equipment and it will take me a long time to properly edit these. Hope you don’t mind!):

stockhome

Here is the stock homescreen, there isn’t much of a difference, just that the white’s have been turned into black.

text editting

A major “feature” I’ve read about is the new and improved text editing navigation. Tapping between text now brings up an orange triangle. You can easily drag this to the desired point. I’ve also read that it supports multitouch (in the keyboard also!) so you can have two arrows up and drag according to the positions. Unfortunately, my tablet only supports one point so I was not able to test this out.

This seems better than having to use a trackball overtime. And yes, I’m sure someone will say: “Hey that’s like Ios…”

menu

notification

I’ve only noticed cosmetic changes at this point and since I haven’t gone round to add g-apps (or attempt if it works) there isn’t much to report back.

It isn’t much faster, in fact start up seems much longer. But since this is an emulator, I cannot really tell if there will be an improvement on android phones. I’ll do another update after I dig into gingerbread a bit more.

I got a question regarding if google voice worked on my froyo configuration. I’m afraid as far as hardware goes for me, only the touchscreen works for me (and that’s because its registered as a mouse in windows) The emulator does not detect my built in webcam and mic (I believe they are one component on my tablet). So in short no. Google voice does not work :(

FURTHER UPDATES (Feb 2011): There is a newer X86 build out (its also Android 2.2), I think its greatly improved, it actually boots on all my computers.

However, booting and functioning are two things, this new build works great on my desktop, but on the tablet, it doesn’t even recognise my touchpad. Therefore, leaving me unable to navigate at all! I’ll need to look into it a bit more!

If you have further questions, I’ll do my best to answer them!

android1

 

 

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks ill try it :)

Mylifeasacomic said...

Your welcome :) let me know how it goes!

SDreamer said...

Can you get Google Voice on it? That would be a rather cool phone, lol.

Mylifeasacomic said...

@Sdreamer: I haven't tried google voice yet, I'll do an update after testing

just a heads up gingerbread is downloadable now!

Freddman said...

Have you tried running Android on VMware on your tablet instead of running the emulator?

Mylifeasacomic said...

@Freddman: Opps sorry I missed your comment!

I ran the X86 projects in the virtualbox on my desktop, it ran fine.

but my tablet isn't supported at all and either way does not boot up android :( pity cause the x86 seems to work better.

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