Really want to test out the Android operating system but don’t have the means (or the money) to go out and buy the latest and greatest phone? Don’t despair. Google has kept you (and potential developers) in mind by offering the SDK (software development kit) for the Android operating system for free and regardless of you skill as a developer. Installing the SDK is pretty easy, however to begin with there are a few things you need to make sure of. Check your Java version and ensure you have the latest version. The SDK (and emulator) requires the latest Java version. After you have this then you will need to get a copy of the SDK. It is not hard to find. Just do a Google search for it and it is likely to be the first thing that pops up – it is quite a popular download.
Now you will need to install the SDK. Not a difficult process and for the most part it is automated. It will download some odds and ends as it installs so don’t freak out if it looks like it isn’t doing anything. It is working hard to give you free stuff – although the lack of progress bar may not comfort you. Once it is installed it will let you know and then you can go forth and dig up the emulator. It is not too hard to get working. Once it is setup it will present you with a screen. Select virtual devices from the menu on the left and then the new button to the right. Don’t freak out with the massive array of options the emulator is in there, you just need to jump through a few hoops to get it working. You should now have a screen that wants to know the name of your virtual device. Call it something ‘androidy’ like D.A.R.Y.L. and select the version of Android you wish to run the emulator under from the target drop down. Specify a size for the virtual SD card and select a skin.
After this click create AVD. It will do a few things and appear to freeze up for a little bit then present you with a confirmation window. Hit ok and on the next screen make sure D.A.R.Y.L. (or whatever name you have given your virtual device) is selected and hit start. It will take a little bit to load and then all of a sudden you will be presented with an awesome Android interface. Pretty nifty really – especially for free and five minutes of your time; you can now use the Android interface and install some apps and do all of the things (except make calls and send text messages) that you can do with an Android device. You should also have access to the Android settings manager that is built into the Android operating system and play around with customising the interface. You can make as many Android devices as you like through the emulator and even play around with some of the lesser known skins and device layouts.