Phone OS Emulators Make for a Good Time

Sure, it’s pretty geeky, but if you like VMs, you’ll love the iOS and Android emulators that come packaged with the SDKs.

Obviously, providing a way for a developer to test applications before deploying them is a must-have requirement for any SDK, and both the iOS and Android emulators (and others too) provide mobile emulators.

This is old news, I know, but the use case here is for non-developers.

Like a VM, you can use these emulators to test-drive a mobile OS. Say for example, you’re thinking about that shiny new Android tablet or that sweet iPhone for Christmas. Wondering how they work and if you’ll be able to get used to using them, especially if you’re new to the OS?

Download the SDK and run the emulator.

Android: Go here, download and unzip. Then run the android app and install the platform you want to test. You can even get a sneak peek at Gingerbread, i.e. 2.3.

Create an Android Virtual Device (AVD), and you’re off and running.

One note, you won’t have the Android Market, although otherwise the emulator functions exactly like a phone would. There are hacks out there to make the Android Market work, if you’re into that.

Even if you don’t want to run the emulator, you might need the SDK. You can use it to take screenshots, install custom applications, mod your phone and troubleshoot your phone if you hose it.

iOS: Get a Mac. Yeah, you need one to run the iOS SDK. Register the Apple Developer Program (free) and download the SDK, which is an enormous 3.2 GB, and install.

Once installed, you can run the emulator in iPhone, iPhone and iPad modes. Unlike Android, it’s not a fully functioning version of iOS, but it works for development.

Anyway, good times if you like test-driving new stuff. Much like VMs, these emulators may become gateways to full-time use and maybe even mobile development.



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