The Nexus S hasn’t been released yet, but besides the vague and unstable custom ROMs, there is a legal way to try out Gingerbread. It’s called the SDK Emulator, originally designed for developers to test their apps with the newest platforms with different configurations.

It’s hell slow and it’s only a barebones Android system but it works, that’s the most important thing. It isn’t even hard to setup! Getting interested? Read the how-to after the break.


First of all, let’s setup the Android SDK, which we need to configure and run the emulator.

  1. Download and unzip the specific Android SDK version for your OS from the developer site. Don’t mind all the stuff below the download links, that’s meant for developers only.
  2. Navigate to the directory where you extracted the SDK. If you’re on Windows, execute “SDK Manager”, if you’re on Linux or a Mac, navigate to /tools and execute “android”. You should get a screen like this:
  3. Before you can set up any virtual device, you have to get an Android platform to get it running on. In the SDK setup, go to “Available Packages” and select the packages you want, for example “SDK Platform Android 2.3, API 9, revision 1”, than click “Install selected”. Don’t forget to select “Android SDK Tools, revision 8” as well.
  4. You’re being prompted with the License Agreements. Just like any other License Agreement, they are boring so we strongly suggest you just select “Accept all”. If you’ve done that, click “Install”.
  5. Relax and take a cup of coffee. This will take some time.

You’ve surely already had five cups of coffee, three donuts and you’ve went to the toilet three times, but we’re finally ready to setup the emulator. I’ll do it step-by-step again.

  1. Go to “Virtual Devices”
  2. Click “New”
  3. You get prompted with an setup screen. Do as follows:
  • In “Name”, enter your desired name for the emulator device.
  • In “Target”, select Gingerbread, that’s what this is all about.
  • In “SD Card”, choose file, than enter 200. That’s the amount I always use.
  • In “Skin”, HVGA is just fine.
  • Now you must enter a whole lot of options, like it has a D-Pad for example. This is the way to customize your device and there aren’t any strict rules for this. Just configure it as you like.
  • When you’re done, click “Create AVD”
  • VoilĂ , your virtual Android device has been configured.

We’re almost there. In Windows, open the Start-menu and type cmd. A command prompt will appear. Type “cd /Path/To/The/SDK/Tools”. Now you’re in the “Tools” directory. Now type “emulator -avd <AVD-name>, and here it is: Your very own Android emulator.

You can download apps with the browser, try the new task manager but you could also just look at the beauty of Gingerbread. Enjoy.

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