Speed up your slow Android Emulator

If you’re not running the latest and greatest hardware, developing for Android using the emulator can be a bit frustrating due to the speed of the emulator.

The good news is this can be fixed relatively easy (assuming you hardware is recent enough to have visualization features – specifically Intel VT).

The below article explains how to get this up and going on Windows or Linux (Mac doesn’t get a mention but could probably follow a variation of the Linux instructions).

I followed these steps and was very impressed at the speed increase, responsiveness and low CPU usage.  As I result I’ve switched back to using the emulator for testing rather than using a real device.


SD card mounted read-only on HTC Desire

Recently after using flight mode on an HTC Desire, I began to get issues with the SD card.  Initially after to switching to flight mode, the SD card was not readable at all.  After switching back to normal mode, the SD card would only mount read-only.

Restarting or pulling the battery didn’t seem to fix the issue.  I’m not sure if there is an easier fix, or a way to format the SD card in place without loosing data, but the following technique worked for me.

  1. Plug the phone into your computer and mount the SD card
  2. Copy the entire contents of the card to a local folder on your computer
  3. Check the file system the card is using by looking at the device properties
  4. Format the SD card using the same file system (usually FAT)
  5. Copy all the files you copied in step 2 back to the device

Starting up the phone after doing the above seemed to fix the issues.  Hopefully this is a permanent fix, but there is the chance that the SD card is permanently faulty and the re-format has just masked the issue temporarily.  In this case, a new SD card (preferably Class 6 or higher) would be required.



Loose micro USB cable on Android devices

Recently almost all the major handset manufacturers agreed to use micro-USB as the standard charger interface in the EU for all new phones. Likely this will become a worldwide standard as there is little benefit in manufacturing a different model in different parts of the world.

Whilst I think this is a great move (to have a standardized charger/data interface), the choice of micro-USB I am not totally sold on.  I have had the pleasure to regularly use 3 different Android devices over the last couple of years, one with mini-USB and two with micro-USB.  None of these have been perfect, but the micro-USB seems to have provided more issues, especially in the sense of a loose connection.

A micro-USB extension cable

Initially I though this loose connection was an issue caused by the USB socket on the phone getting worn over time.  This was the conclusion reached after buying a few different replacement cables from eBay.  They would only charge if pressure was placed on the cable (i.e. bending it down with the screen facing up) and rarely would data connectivity be achieved.  This conclusion was further solidified after buying a new handset and having the same issue with the same cables.

So the first point to note here is that not all micro-USB cables are the same (even though it is a standard) and the fact that perhaps some phones are more fussy about what cables are used.  The new phone I was testing was an HTC Incredible S.  The HTC cable that came with the phone worked perfectly (although still felt a bit loose), but the range of eBay cables all had issues.

After a bit of searching at the local office supplies store, I found a micro USB cable supplied by Nokia that looked like it had slightly bigger teeth on it than the other cables.  After buying one of these cables I confirmed that it also worked perfectly (like the stock HTC cable).

So the takeaway here is, steer away from the cheapo eBay cables and get a Nokia, HTC or other manufacturer cable.  You can pick up the Nokia cables on eBay pretty cheap, just look out for the cable clip that comes with the genuine ones, but not the knock offs.



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