The growing number of Android phone users increases the demand for more innovative mobile apps with excellent user experience. For this reason, a mature mobile testing solution is needed that allows organizations to deploy and support their mobile application development on time and cost-effectively, lowering their risk exposure. For that, an influx of startups and technology organizations have taken it upon themselves to create Android Emulators to perform the task of porting a mobile application to the desktop computer to help out in the testing part of the app development.
Moving to our topic it is important to first understand what exactly emulators are, why this technology is required, its benefits, and more.
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Android emulator is a powerful tool for creating mobile applications. It provides amazing features, rich development tools, and an integrated debugging environment. An emulator creates Android virtual devices (with software and hardware) on a PC(Windows or macOS) and gives access to install and run Android apps on a computer’s powerful resources. Emulators let you run apps that generally wouldn’t work on your computer.
Emulators are commonly used to play video games and run different operating systems. It allows Android developers to test their apps across multiple devices that they could ever imagine to get hands-on, and from game enthusiasts to Android app developers, emulators can be used by anyone to improve their apps before they are released. Instead of switching between multiple physical devices, they only need one emulator.
On the other hand, for gamers it allows them to play their favorite games on a larger screen by taking advantage of their PC control. Emulators let them use their computer’s much more advanced specifications and reduce the lag in Android games. If your smartphone has difficulty running the newest games, then the use of emulators is the way to go. Emulators fall into three main categories. They are-
Device emulators- They are provided by device manufacturers to simulate the actual device. Emulators replace actual hardware with unique features and provide a beneficial testing environment.
Browser emulators- These are used to determine the functionality of a particular mobile browser, by mimicking the mobile browser environment. They cannot be used for device-specific testing.
Operating System Emulators- Microsoft provides Mobile emulators for Windows, and Google delivers emulators for Android. They run in a simulated mobile device environment and allow access to applications running within the operating system.
How Emulators Work
Different types of emulators use different emulation techniques. But, the end goal always remains the same. That is to focus on recreating the experience of using the original computer environment.
In emulation, the original hardware and software environments of an application are replicated on a current machine. By doing so, a user can access any application or operating system on a current platform that behaves as it did in its original environment.
Designed once, it can be applied uniformly, and automatically, at every refresh cycle to all types of documents. As an example, when a new version of an application is released, one could create an emulator for the application to access all segments of the application rather than addressing compatibility issues and migration for every component created in the previous version of the application.
Need to Use Emulators
Different kinds of computers and operating systems are unique, and applications are also platform-specific. That means an app that works on one system will not work on another that is why developers create separate applications for Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac. If a Mac user would want to use an app available only for Windows, the only option left is to use an emulator.
Emulators bridge the gap between different devices( for ex- a laptop and a PlayStation.), and different operating systems(Windows and macOS) allowing the application to work on all hardware and software. One can download programs stored in outdated formats, such as old game cartridges, as ROM (read-only memory) files using a special device. Playing the ROMs on an emulator will allow them to emulate their original gaming systems. With an emulator, you can run all applications anywhere, anytime.
Reasons Android Emulator is a good choice for developers
Android emulators are crucial, they provide gamers, application developers, and other experts a way to overcome the limits of smartphones and enjoy the advantages of computer resources. The Android Emulator enables developers to test their android app performance on many different devices, virtually. For developers, it is the best way to test how their app translates across multiple hardware and software configurations. Besides these, there are many other reasons why an android emulator is a good choice for developers. Let’s check them out.
Allows to run multiple apps simultaneously
Android emulators can multitask. Using emulators allows you to run many Android apps simultaneously. There is no doubt that phones are capable of multitasking and running apps in the background, but you cannot access all of them at the same time. In comparison, Android emulators can run multiple apps side by side on the PC as long as it has sufficient processing power to handle it.
You can watch a video on any video-sharing app and simultaneously chat with a friend without interrupting your conversation on a social networking app like WhatsApp. You can also use an app with many accounts at a time by running numerous instances of it. For example, running games, streaming a video, or WhatsApp conversation all on the same big PC screen at once.
Give access to mobile-only apps from the desktop
The demanding apps on the Play Store demand high-end android devices for smooth running. This could be too much for your normal smartphone to manage. However, you won’t have to worry about that because the Android emulator is there to save your budget for replacing your current phone. It could get you a virtual highest-end android phone for free on your PC.
Although some of these emulators are primarily designed for gamers, others are intended for developers that offer many tools to help you create and test apps before they are made available to get access on the Google Play Store.
Save mobile battery life
Although mobile phones are an excellent way of communicating with the latest technology. Talking about their battery they are small and could not withstand prolonged usage. Extensive use may heat your phone and burn out the power very quickly.
Using an Android emulator on your PC frees you from the limitations of your phone’s battery life. You will never have to worry about the power supply. Let your playlist go on without interruptions and use your apps as long as you need without any lag.
Improved Time Management
For testing needs, the emulator is the best option. Testing the app on the computer is faster when using emulators. Developers will be able to complete their work faster and easier than doing so on a physical device thus saving their time. This allows them to perform other important tasks with the extra time. For example, data can be transferred to the emulator faster than to a physical device connected over a USB. Using emulators allows developers to work on production tasks and helps with better time management.
Helpful with physical sensor
Testing a specific app feature that relies on sensors like the accelerometer is easier on emulators. The extended controls of the emulator make it easier to configure the settings through the visual.
The newest mobile applications in the Google Play Store demand more powerful resources. Developers and gamers require the greatest PCs with the best features and resources. An emulator makes it easy for them to run resource-intensive apps and games on their computer. Using emulators they get better hardware and more customized choices for their PC’s programs and games easily available. Also, as compared to smartphones, computers have more storage space. This makes it easy for them to store apps and games on the PC instead of deleting them to clear up space.
Integration with the development environment,
Debugging information is very important for the development phase and android emulators provide the developer access to such detailed information. This allows testers the convenience of step-by-step debugging of the application on the emulator.
The shortcomings of emulators
Because emulators need to replicate the behavior of a completely different device, without having their hardware or power source. Due to this emulators tend to run slower than the device they are simulating and can take a lot of processing power. Many other weaknesses come along with the emulators. Let’s discuss some of them.
Testing on emulators may result in perfect results, but there is no guarantee that the data will be applicable to an actual device. The result is confusion over which tests need to be double-checked on a real device and which are reliable on an emulator. When a test fails on the emulator, testers are unsure whether to perform the test on a real device or simply ignore it.
Differences in the network environment of desktop
Mobile emulators and real device network configurations are different. Mobile emulators that run on the PC, connect to the LAN and access the Internet via a personal or corporate firewall. In the case of using real phones the network is connected to the radio interface and from there to the Internet. So the low-level network support will be completely different. Hence the difference in network environment will result in the application behaving in another way.
Differences in Computing Resources
Real devices are compact platforms with limited resources like CPU power and memory. Whereas mobile emulators running on PCs have higher resources. So an application that runs on a PC will not accurately reflect the user experience on the handset.
Varying Mobile networks
For a mobile device network-related events like incoming calls and text messages must be tested to determine their impact on the application behavior. This is very hard to achieve using an emulator because the quality of the network differs from carrier to state, country, and region. Since emulators are not connected to the mobile network, they are incapable of answering how these will affect the application.
Testing on LambdaTest real device cloud
When it comes to the quality of your application, there is no substitute for using a real device. The more the testing is performed in a real environment and gets closer to the actual platform during the QA process, the better the quality is achieved. Testing on real devices is a better way to ensure high-quality applications concerning network issues, and location-based services, and truly understand user experience, giving you accurate results.
But the problem is that physical resources like real handsets and tablets are increasing massively day by day and buying and managing a huge number of real devices is difficult. Additionally, the cost it incurs is significantly a lot more than manageable. So the best solution for this is to use cloud infrastructure where you don’t have to manage and invest in buying the real device.
One such cloud-based testing platform is LambdaTest. This is an online Android emulator that provides manual and automation testing on both real devices and emulators for web and mobile applications on the newest and legacy Android operating systems, devices, and browsers. It is compatible with Windows, Linux, as well as macOS.
LambdaTest comes with Native App Testing features that allow you to conduct online live interactive testing on more than 3000 real devices, browsers, and operating systems with their respective version.
Using this platform you can run automated mobile testing of both native apps and mobile websites on real handsets and other official emulators. This makes it easier to expose performance defects sooner as well as defects that are the result of the handset itself or its environment. You don’t need to worry about false negatives or false positive results as here testing is performed in a live network.
We have seen both the benefits and downsides of using emulators for mobile application testing. When it comes to deciding between emulators and real devices, it would be appropriate to say that the optimal testing solution for any organization is not either/or rather a combination of both.
The decisions of when and to what extent to use emulators or real devices, deciding point between these two extremes is likely to vary among different organizations, depending on functions of each one’s risk management approach, internal needs, and customer demands.
It is also to say that emulators are not identical to the real target environment. Just relying on emulators with closed eyes is not a better idea. Since mobile applications are used on real handsets and not emulators. Using a real device is a preferable option for testing.