The Visual Studio Emulator for Android in VS2015 CTP6

John Kemnetz

In November we launched the Visual Studio Emulator for Android and have gotten great positive feedback from you. Since then we’ve continued to work hard to provide a fast, Hyper-V compatible, x86 Android emulator for all of your debugging and testing needs. Today I’m happy to announce that our emulator just got a little sweeter with an update that adds Lollipop targets, OpenGL ES support, multi-touch input, and advanced camera simulation.

Lollipop (API Level 21) Debug Targets

Starting with Visual Studio 2015 CTP6, you can debug your C++ Cross-Platform, JavaScript (or Typescript) Cordova, and C# Xamarin applications against Android’s latest platform version (Android 5.0) using the included Visual Studio Emulator for Android. Just select the VS Emulator Lollipop Tablet or Phone targets in your debug target dropdown and you’re ready to go.
In C++ projects, select x86 as your architecture and the dropdown will include these entries:
Note that these entries will not appear if ARM is the selected architecture. In Cordova projects, the entries will appear like this:
In Cordova projects, you must have the “Android” platform selected to see these options. In Xamarin projects, the entries will appear like this:
All of the simulations and features of the KitKat debug targets will work with these new Lollipop targets.

OpenGL ES Support

OpenGL ES is a popular graphics API on the Android platform and the VS Emulator for Android can now render apps that make use of OpenGL ES up to version 2.0. We’ve been trying it out with some Unity apps and the experience is fast and smooth. (If you’re curious, under the hood we’re forwarding OpenGL ES calls to the host machine’s GPU and using ANGLE to translate the calls to DirectX). Check out this Particle Callbacks sample that uses OpenGL and Unity running on our emulator:

Multi-Touch Input Simulation

We’ve also added the ability to simulate multi-touch inputs. When running the emulator, you can now select between “Single Point Input” and “Multi-touch Input.” Selecting “Multi-touch Input” will overlay three dots. The large outer two dots act as two touch points for pinching and zooming and the inner dot controls the origin for the touch points. If you’re using the emulator on a touchscreen you can also use your fingers to directly interact with the emulator screen.

Camera Simulation

In this release we’ve added some advanced camera simulation capabilities that you can access through the “Camera” tab in the Additional Tools flyout. You can now switch the simulation to display a default animation, a picture from file, or an attached webcam for both the front and rear cameras. Any webcam recognized by Windows will show up in the dropdown lists for front and rear camera, which is great news for the selfie-lovers among us (or those who write apps for them)!
Please note that the CTP6 release of the Emulator does not do a build-to-build upgrade from previous releases. To install the CTP6 version of the Emulator, make sure you’ve removed any older “Microsoft Visual Studio Emulator for Android” entries in your Add/Remove Programs list.
Excited to try out all the new features? Download Visual Studio 2015 CTP6 and make sure the “Visual Studio Emulator for Android” option is checked underneath one of the Cross-Platform project types. As always, we welcome your feedback to help us prioritize what’s to come in future releases, so drop us a line in the comments and ask us for help on StackOverflow!


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