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In this guide, you will learn how to launch a virtual device in theAndroid Emulator to debug and test your app.

The Android Emulator (installed as part of the Mobile development with.NET workload), can be run in a variety of configurations to simulatedifferent Android devices. Each one of these configurations is createdas a virtual device. In this guide, you will learn how to launch theemulator from Visual Studio and run your app in a virtual device. Forinformation about configuring the Android Emulator and creating newvirtual devices, seeAndroid Emulator Setup.

Using a Pre-Configured Virtual Device

Visual Studio includes pre-configured virtual devices that appear inthe device drop-down menu. For example, in the following Visual Studio2017 screenshot, several pre-configured virtual devices are available:

  • VisualStudio_android-23_arm_phone

  • VisualStudio_android-23_arm_tablet

  • VisualStudio_android-23_x86_phone

  • VisualStudio_android-23_x86_tablet

Typically, you would select the VisualStudio_android-23_x86_phonevirtual device to test and debug a phone app. If one of thesepre-configured virtual devices meets your requirements (i.e., matchesyour app's target API level), skip toLaunching the Emulator to begin running your app in theemulator. (If you are not yet familiar with Android API levels, seeUnderstanding Android API Levels.)

If your Xamarin.Android project is using a Target Framework level thatis incompatible with the available virtual devices, the drop-down menulists the unusable virtual devices under Unsupported Devices. Forexample, the following project has a Target Framework set to Android7.1 Nougat (API 25), which is incompatible with the Android 6.0virtual devices that are listed in this example:

You can click Change Minimum Android Target to change the project'sMinimum Android Version so that it matches the API level of theavailable virtual devices. Alternately, you can use theAndroid Device Managerto create new virtual devices that support your target API level.Before you can configure virtual devices for a new API level, you mustfirst install the corresponding system images for that API level (seeSetting up the Android SDK for Xamarin.Android).

Visual Studio for Mac includes pre-configured virtual devices thatappear in the device drop-down menu. For example, in the followingscreenshot, two pre-configured virtual devices are available:

  • Android_Accelerated_x86

  • Android_ARMv7a

Typically, you would select the Android_Accelerated_x86virtual device to test and debug a phone app. If thispre-configured virtual device meets your requirements (i.e., matchesyour app's target API level), skip toLaunching the Emulator to begin running your app in theemulator. (If you are not yet familiar with Android API levels, seeUnderstanding Android API Levels.)

Editing Virtual Devices

To modify virtual devices (or to create new ones), you must use theAndroid Device Manager.

Launching the Emulator

Near the top of Visual Studio, there is a drop-down menu that can beused to select Debug or Release mode. Choosing Debug causesthe debugger to attach to the application process running inside theemulator after the app starts. Choosing Release mode disables thedebugger (however, you can still run the app and use log statements fordebug). After you have chosen a virtual device from the devicedrop-down menu, select either Debug or Release mode, then clickthe Play button to run the application:

Android Emulator Mac Download

After the emulator starts, Xamarin.Android will deploy the app to theemulator. The emulator runs the app with the configured virtual deviceimage. An example screenshot of the Android Emulator is displayedbelow. In this example, the emulator is running a blank app calledMyApp:

The emulator may be left running: it is not necessary to shut it downand wait for it to restart each time the app is launched. The firsttime a Xamarin.Android app is run in the emulator, the Xamarin.Androidshared runtime for the targeted API level is installed, followed bythe application. The runtime installation may take a few moments, soplease be patient. Installation of the runtime takes place only whenthe first Xamarin.Android app is deployed to the emulator –subsequent deployments are faster because only the app is copied to theemulator.

Android Emulator Mac Android Studio

Quick Boot

Newer versions of the Android Emulator include a feature calledQuick Boot that launches the emulator in only a few seconds. When youclose the emulator, it takes a snapshot of the virtual device state sothat it can be quickly restored from that state when it is restarted.To access this feature, you will need the following:

  • Android Emulator version 27.0.2 or later
  • Android SDK Tools version 26.1.1 or later

When the above-listed versions of the emulator and SDK tools areinstalled, the Quick Boot feature is enabled by default.

The first cold boot of the virtual device takes place without a speedimprovement because a snapshot has not yet been created:


When you exit out of the emulator, Quick Boot saves the state ofthe emulator in a snapshot:

Subsequent virtual device starts are much faster because the emulatorsimply restores the state at which you closed the emulator.


For tips and workarounds for common emulator problems, seeAndroid Emulator Troubleshooting.


This guide explained the process for configuring the AndroidEmulator to run and test Xamarin.Android apps. It described the stepsfor launching the emulator using pre-configured virtual devices, and itprovided the steps for deploying an application to the emulator fromVisual Studio.

For more information about using the Android Emulator, seethe following Android Developer topics:

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