Re: Why is ODL needed when there are emulators?

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Andy Soell

May 28, 2013, 1:42:08 PM5/28/13
Simulators are fine if you just need to know if your work is on the right track, but they're a poor substitute for actual testing. You can't tell on a simulator if your buttons are big enough for real, live human fingers. There are also a number of quirks that come up on different devices that don't occur in simulators. A local developer came in this past week, for example, and found that his embedded audio player didn't work in Android 2.2, despite it working fine in the simulator. 

Simulators are better than nothing, but going to a device lab to test your work is really the only way to ensure your work is its best across all targeted platforms. 

Andy Soell
The Salt Mines Device Lab

On May 28, 2013, at 11:45 AM, Ben Kuhl <> wrote:

Why are ODLs needed when there are emulators that allow you to test running your applications from the comfort of your home and/or work?

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Brian Samson

May 28, 2013, 1:37:48 PM5/28/13
Just a quick list off the top of my head from the last month or so of my mobile development efforts: 

1. The real hardware iPad has a case-sensitive filesystem, and my macbook (and the simulator) do not.  This caused an issue in production because I failed to double check the build on the device before submitting to the app store. 

2. The performance of 3d-transform based html5 scrolling on a kindle was reported to be orders of magnitude worse than anything I ever saw in the emulator, a fact I didn't really believe until I actually tested it on hardware myself.

3. A difficult to diagnose problem specific to the Galaxy S3:

You're correct that emulators are getting better and better, but at the end of the day there are still device-specific problems and other issues that only occur on real hardware. 


Ben Seven

Jun 17, 2014, 7:16:13 AM6/17/14
An additional point that I don't think anyone has mentioned, is that the simulators / emulators for Android and iOS (and some others) don't use the same browser rendering engine as a real mobile device. They use the host's rendering engine, e.g. desktop Safari for the iOS simulator.

The only emulators that are actually accurate for mobile rendering on a desktop are Opera and the Windows Phone virtual machines.

This leaves us with a huge, huge swathe of modern devices that can only be accurately assessed for design and performance on the handsets themselves.

That's why ODLs exist.
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