Getting started with Android development has never been easier. If you are developing on Windows, there are a few things that you will need to be aware of that may not be so obvious to a beginner.

Installing Your Android Development Environment

The best place to get started is on the Android Developers site. You need only download and unzip a single ZIP file to get started. The package includes almost everything you will need including Eclipse, the ADT plugin, Android SDK Tools, Android Platform Tools, the latest Android platform and system images for the included emulator. The only thing missing is the Java platform JDK

Launching Eclipse

When you first launch Eclipse, you will be greeted with a Welcome! screen. While this is great, unfortunately it covers up the user interface of the IDE. To see the editor, you'll need to close or at least minimize this tab or you might end up thinking that nothing is working.

Your First Android Emulator

You don't even need a physical Android device to get started as this development environment comes complete with an emulator. While not fast by any stretch of the imagination, it does work. Here is what you'll need to know.

Create Your Android Emulator

You need to create a virtual android emulator. From the Eclipse IDE, click Windows > Android Virtual Device Manager > New.

Failed to Allocate Memory Error

Should you get the following error when launching your virtual Android Emulator,edit the following file and delete the hw.ramSize=1024 line:


Many people have suggested adding MB to the end of this line instead however I have found that it simply makes the setting invalid so you may as well remove it so that you aren't under any illusion that it's actually doing something.

Error Message

Failed to allocate memory: 8
This application has requested the Runtime to terminate it in an unusual way.
Please contact the application's support team for more information.

Until the bug is fixed in a future release, you will need to do this anytime you create or edit an Android emulator.

Starting Your Android Emulator

The first time you start an emulator, be aware that it can take a very long time to start up -- 5 to 10 minutes in some cases.

Android Emulator Navigation

Back Button -- If you don't have onscreen buttons enabled, pressing the ESC key on your computer is the equivalent of pressing the back button on the Android device.

Unlock Device -- If you happen to lock yourself out of the device and can't slide the unlock icon, try pressing the ESC key first and then use your mouse to slide the unlock icon.

Testing Your Apps in the Android Emulator

Since the Android emulator is not the fastest phone or tablet in the world, don't close it after testing your app. If you leave it open, Eclipse will launch the app in the already running emulator. You wouldn't shutdown your phone or tablet after each test, would you?