How To: Install and Browser Test Your Site With Google Android Right on Your PC

Update 4/2011: A more recent guide to setting up an Android Nexus S and Xoom (Honeycomb) emulator on Android 2.3 and 3.0 is here.

The post below is for Android SDK versions 1.1 (2008) and under.

Browser testing is critical to any web developer, designer… really any web professional. You need to know how your users or customers are seeing your work through the multitude of browsers and devices available to them, new ones become available every day. I wasn’t able to find a quick answer to browser testing on the new Google Android mobile platform so I blazed a trail, captured and boiled down the steps so anyone can follow and get Android up and running on their Windows PC quickly and painlessly.

Installing the SDK and Browser

  1. First things first visit the Android SDK download page and download the Windows version of the SDK.
  2. Create a folder under C:\Program Files called “android-sdk”
  3. Un-zip the contents of the Android SDK you downloaded into this folder. Installing Google Android SDK
  4. Now that you have the all files you need to edit your “path” so Windows can find the emulator when it is run. Installing Google Android SDK
    • Right click on “My Computer”
    • Select “Properties”
    • Click the “Advanced” tab
    • Click on the “Environment Variables” in “System Variables” scroll down to “Path”
    • Double click on “Path” move to the end of the “Variable value” and paste in this path (don’t forget the semicolon to close the previous path) ;C:\Program Files\android-sdk\tools
    • Click “Ok” on all open windows.
  5. Ok now the SDK is set up to run, lets quickly create some shortcuts icons to launch our emulator. Installing Google Android for Browser Testing
    • Right click on your Desktop, mouse over “New” then click “Shortcut”
    • Paste this command into the entry field then click next emulator.exe -datadir "C:\Program Files\android-sdk" -skin HVGA-P
    • If you like give your shortcut a name I chose “Android - Standard” (I chose “Standard” for a reason if you want to try the other versions see “Extra Credit“)


Double click your shortcut and you should see the Android emulator starting up, it does take a little time the first run. Google Android Emulator Browser Testing

Doing Some Quick Testing

  • 10

    Once the emulator phone boots, click “Menu” on the phone and proceed to the browser.

    Click on the Browser icon

  • 11

    Click “Menu” again then click “Go to URL

  • 12Type in the URL of the site you are interested in and see what your users see!
  • 13

    That should be enough to get you going, there is a lot more to find in the Android emulator poke around and understand the experience on these new devices and keep looking out for new ways your users are seeing your site.


Extra Credit

If you are interested there are three more iterations on the Google Android screen that will be in users’s hands. Create shortcuts for these commands if you’d like to try them.

emulator.exe -datadir "C:\Program Files\android-sdk" -skin HVGA-L14

emulator.exe -datadir "C:\Program Files\android-sdk" -skin QVGA-P15

emulator.exe -datadir "C:\Program Files\android-sdk" -skin QVGA-L16

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