Android 2.3 emulation

While we're all waiting around for the Gingerbread OTA or our Nexus One's, we need some way to pass the time.  Bored Android geeks are dangerous Android geeks.  Luckily, today's release of the SDK gives us a way to preview some of Android 2.3's new features and UI elements.  Hit the break to see how to update your SDK and set up a 2.3 virtual device, as well as a bunch of screenshots for those who don't feel like tackling the process.

Installing and updating the Android SDK

First thing you'll need to do is install or update to the newest version of the SDK.  Visit the Android developers site to grab the download if you need it, and for the full instructions.  If you're computer savvy, here's the short version:

  • Download the SDK for your platform
  • Install the current version of Sun's JDK from Oracle here. Be sure to choose to install the JDK (Java development kit) and not the JRE (Java runtime environment).
  • Extract the SDK, and run the setup utility

If you already have the SDK installed, all you need to do is update it with today's release. Do this through the SDK setup utility.  It's a two part installation -- first you'll have to update the SDK tools, then restart the setup utility and add the SDK level 9 components.

If you hit a snag, never fear.  Dive into the new Gingerbread forums, and there's more than a few who can help get you on track.

Setting up a virtual device

This part is easy.  Fire up the SDK manager, and in the left pane choose Virtual devices.  You'll see a window that will be blank if you've never set one up before, or it will have your previous device entries listed.  Click the "New" button, and fill things in just like this:

Create a new virtual device

Click the "Create AVD" button and give it a second.  You'll get confirmation that the AVD (Android Virtual Device) was created when it's finished.  Starting it up is easy -- back in your SDK setup window, choose your new machine and click "Start"

SDK setup screen

After a few moments, your AVD will fire up and you'll see the screen that's at the top of the post. The buttons on the right pane work just like the buttons on a real device, and your mouse scrollwheel works as a trackball, while the left mouse button equals a finger press.  It gets easy to understand after using it a few minutes.

Depending on your computer, this isn't going to run very fast.  That's OK, and a fair trade off for the ability to play and test Gingerbread.

Just want to look?

Maybe you don;t want to setup a bunch of development software just to see some Gingerbread screens. Nobody blames you, it's not everyone's cup of tea. For you folks, here's a mess 'o screenshots showing off some of the features.

gingerbread lockscreen  Gingerbread homescreen

Browser  Browser settings

Dialer  Keyboard

Downloading a file  Download manager

Music player  Music player overlay

Recent apps  Speech recorder

Of course there's still a good bit missing, and we can't really explore the new settings without the hardware, but this should give you a general idea of how things are going to look.  Just a few weeks, and we'll have it in the flesh.

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