Manymo: An Android Emulator for Developers

I’ve been experimenting recently with creating “responsive” web designs. One of the problems I’ve encountered is that unless you have a smartphone, you can’t really see what your site would look like to a mobile user.

Enter Manymo

I looked at downloading an Android emulator, but it looks like to get that I need to download the Java Development Kit, Eclipse, and the Android SDK. Yikes! I didn’t want to do all that when all I want to do is see a little web page I whipped up in HTML5 with some CSS media queries and a little Javascript. I looked for alternatives and found out about Manymo.

Manymo is a browser-based Android emulator available online here. It supports lots of screen resolutions, including tablets and smartphones, and numerous versions of the Android operating system. It runs a life-size smartphone or tablet in your browser. It’s very responsive. The only real ┬áproblem I had was learning how to work an Android phone (embarrassing to admit).

Being able to do this had proved invaluable to my understanding of the differences between devices and how media queries work. When I was able to pull up my little game (it plays “roshambo” aka “rock, paper, scissors”) on the emulator I could immediately see that the game area was far too small because I had failed to account for the differences in the way different devices display things. I could never get that sense just from running my little game in a browser and shrinking the browser.

Not for the faint of wallet, but . . .

Now for the bad news. My free trial of Manymo expires in one week and then they’re going to want me to pay $49.99 a month to keep using it. Obviously, I don’t plan to do enough mobile development to justify paying $600 a year for the service. For what little I will do, it’s probably worth it for me to eventually download and install all that stuff I mentioned earlier. However, I could see it being well worth your while if you’re a serious Android developer and want to be able to test your apps against multiple operating systems and screen resolutions. Manymo strikes me as a neat product with a very bright future.

If I can get my roshambo game to run well on a few different devices I’ll post it on the site so you can check it out.

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