David Watt · Nov 9, 2012 at 07:00 pm

Jar of Beans: A Portable Android Emulator

An Android emulator is of course an invaluable tool for app developers, allowing testing of software to be carried out without the need of a physical device. An emulator is also a great way for anyone to try out an app before installing it to their device, whether it be for security reasons or if they just don’t have their device on hand at the time.

When it comes to availability, there are a number of Android emulators freely available for download. Google provide one as part of their Android SDK. Another freely available software package exists that allows you to run Android apps and games natively on a Windows PC or Mac. While using this software, XDA Forum Member unrealmanu began to dislike it and decided to have a go at creating his own Android emulator. And thus Jar of Beans was born.

Jar of Beans, as the name suggests, runs Android Jelly Bean (using 4.1.1 at present). It supports Intel Hardware Accelerated Execution Manager (HAXM), which provides hardware acceleration for the emulator to improve overall performance. One advantage Jar of Beans has over other emulators is that this one is completely portable and requires no installation. Execution is as simple as running an executable file.

Jar of Beans has a number of configuration options. You can choose from a number of resolutions in which to run the emulator, which has a significant benefit. When a resolution of 1280 x 768 or higher is chosen, the Android interface automatically switches to Android’s tablet mode.

A button is provided to allow you to install APK files stored on your computer, as well as buttons for controlling volume, given the obvious lack of physical hardware volume buttons. An ADB interface is also included in the emulator, allowing you to connect directly to the emulated Android system.

The latest beta version has added a number of new handy features. Multi-user support has been included, allowing each user to save their own custom settings. The ability to create a virtual SD card has also been added, which allows you to create an SD card of any size you wish, which is then of course seen in the emulator as a standard SD card.

A number of features are planned for upcoming versions. Unrealmanu hopes to include keyboard support to allow full text input from the computer keyboard. A choice of skins and additional resolutions are also on the to-do list.

If you want to take the emulator for a test drive, check out the software thread.


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David Watt

the_scotsman is an editor on XDA-Developers, the largest community for Android users.
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