updated 03:50 pm EDT, Mon April 9, 2012
Android SDK catches up with full hardware spport
Google's Xavier Ducrohet and Reto Meier posted word of a major update to the Android SDK to improve its usability for developers. Those running the Android 4.0.4 simulator now get graphics hardware acceleration instead leaning wholly on the Mac or Windows PC's processor. It not only improves the responsiveness to give a sense for the real experience but lets app writers test OpenGL ES 2.0 games, allowing testing at least some 3D games without having to get the real hardware.
It's now possible to use a real Android device to replicate hardware features in the emulator. A phone or tablet cam reproduce multi-touch gestures that most computers can't replicate. Other sensors can now relay their own features, and Google has promised that Bluetooth and NFC will be coming soon.
Raw processor emulation should be about twice as fast, Google added.
Performance has regularly been a problem for Android's developer emulation and has been considered a partial factor behind a continued preference for iOS among app creators. Apple's emulator has typically been fast and could support many of the features that users would see on a real device. Sluggish performance and a lack of simulated components has made it tough to properly test Android apps without having several pieces of hardware to cover most common situations.