Android Emulator on Apple M1

How to use the Emulator for Android on Apple Silicon devices

A question of choice

When first trying to install the emulator for virtual Android devices that comes with Android Studio, you’ve probably seen an error or two. The main problem is that the “Intel HAXM emulator” can’t run on devices with Apple’s M-series of chips. They are based on the ARM-architecture and don’t provide the necessary runtime tools for a virtualized Android device. But you don’t have to use the default option.

Using the native system image

You can actually ignore all the errors related to the Intel emulator. When creating a new Android virtual device, simply select the tab “Other images” in the second step “Select a system image”. From there, you can download the desired Android system image build for ARM.

Note that Android Studio might show you a warning that tells you about a ten times slower device when using ARM. This is true when your host computer is using an Intel chip, but because your Mac is also using ARM, the usage of this system image is actually blazingly fast. You’re just running an ARM device on another ARM device. If you’ve been using Xcode on an Apple Silicon device as well, you know how fast they are as the same principle applies. Your Mac doesn’t emulate iOS system images, but directly runs them.

When you’ve finished setting up the virtual device, it can be used the same way as those used with the Intel-based emulator.