This article walks through the installation steps and configuration details required to install Xamarin.Android. By the end of this article, we will have a working Xamarin.Android installation integrated into Xamarin Studio and/or Microsoft Visual Studio, and we’ll be ready to start building our first Xamarin.Android application.
The Xamarin.Android installer will automatically detect, download, and install any components required for completing the installation. This tutorial examines the installation and configuration steps required to install the Xamarin platform and to get our development environment set up, including how to:
- Download the Installer
- Run the Installer
- Configure the IDE
- Deploy to Device
- Configure Android Emulators
Downloading the Xamarin Installer
Your first step is to download the Xamarin unified installer, which can be found at http://www.xamarin.com/Download:
If you’ve purchased Xamarin.Android, follow the download instructions in the e-mail you received with your purchase.
Running the Xamarin Installer
Open the installer to begin the installation process:
When the installation is complete, close this window to exit the installer and begin working with Xamarin.
Configuring the Installation
Now that we’ve installed the components, we need to tell our IDE where to find them. Xamarin Studio and Visual Studio both have configuration options that let us specify the Java and Android SDK locations.
During installation, the installer places the installed components in their default locations and configures the development environment with the appropriate path configuration. However, if we already had them installed or if we installed them in locations other than the default, then we must explicitly specify the paths to these components.
Configuring Xamarin Studio
To configure SDK locations in Xamarin Studio, go to Xamarin Studio Preferences, then select Build > SDK Locations > Android from the left tree-view panel in the dialog:
Configuring Visual Studio
To configure the Visual Studio tools, navigate to Tools > Options > Xamarin > Android Settings:
Step 5 - Activation
As you begin developing, you will be asked to activate your installation. You will see a popover that looks like this:
If you've already purchased your Xamarin products, log in with your Xamarin credentials:
Upon successful activation, you can return to Xamarin or Visual Studio. The IDE will notify you that the activation has been completed, and how many machines are left on your subscription:
If you are running Starter Edition, you may see the activation popover with an added note saying that the project you are trying to compile is too large. At this point will need to either purchase a license or begin a trial if you want to build your project:
Use the second option to start a 30-day free trial of Xamarin Business Edition:
You can see how many days of the trial you have left at any point:
If you're ready to purchase, choose the first option to be redirected to the Xamarin store and checkout.
Deploying to Device
To configure an Android device for development, you must first install OEM USB drivers. Then, turn on developer mode to allow USB debugging and keep the device awake during deployment.
Instructions for installing OEM USB Drivers are available in the Android documentation.
Configure Android Versions 4.1 and Older
Navigate to Settings > Applications > Development or Settings > Developer Options:
Then, configure options as illustrated by the following screenshot:
Configure Android Versions 4.2 and Newer
Developer mode is hidden in later versions of Android. To turn on developer mode, go to Settings and scroll down to the System section. Then, select About phone. In the screenshot below, developer options are already available, but they may not be available yet on your device, so we will learn how to enable them next:
Scroll down to the bottom and click on Build number 7 times to enable Developer Settings:
Once the Developer Options tab is available on the About phone screen, open it to reveal developer settings:
Plug the device into your machine, and deploy using Xamarin Studio:
For more information, see the Android documentation on Setting Up a Device for Development.
Configuring Android Emulators
You can run the Android Emulator in a variety of configurations to simulate different devices. Each one of these configurations is created as a Virtual Device. By default, the Xamarin.Android installer will create a virtual device for each of the Android platforms registered by the installer. However, we can create our own custom virtual device configuration.
Virtual devices are configured via the Android Virtual Device (AVD) Manager. The AVD Manager can either be launched from the Android SDK Manager, or directly from Xamarin Studio (if we’re using it).
Launching the AVD Manager from Xamarin Studio
If we’re using Xamarin Studio and have an open project, the AVD Manager can be launched directly by selecting Tools > Managed AVDs from the menu bar:
Launching the AVD Manager from the Android SDK Manager
We can launch the Android SDK Manager from the Start menu like this:
Once we have located and opened the Android SDK Manager, we can launch the AVD Manager by navigating to the top menu bar and then selecting Tools > Manage AVDs...
Creating a new Virtual Device
Once the AVD Manager is open, we can create a new virtual device by clicking New...
This should open the Create new Android Virtual Device dialog and allow us to configure our device by using this dialog:
Once we’re finished configuring the device, we can select Create AVD. We can then see that the device was created successfully with the hardware configuration options we specified by checking the dialog shown below:
Using Genymotion Emulator (Optional)
Genymotion is a faster, lightweight alternative to the traditional Android emulator. It offers x86 architecture and OpenGL hardware acceleration, and is easy to use. To run Genymotion on Windows, register with Genymotion and follow instructions to download and install the emulator.
Once you have Genymotion running with virtual devices set up, you can deploy directly to the Genymotion emulator from Visual or Xamarin Studio:
Launch SDK Manager
Use the SDK manager to install updates and develop for different API levels. Refer to the Launch SDK Manager recipe for more information.
That’s it! Now we’re all set up to use Xamarin.Android to create Android applications!
In this article, we examined how to set up and install the Xamarin.Android platform on Windows. We also looked at some different ways to configure our platform installation in Xamarin Studio and in Visual Studio. And we showed you how to use the Android Virtual Device Manager to define your Android SDK Emulator configurations.
In the next tutorial, we’ll use Xamarin.Android to create our first Android application.