Setting up the Android SDK for Xamarin.Android

Visual Studio includes an Android SDK Manager that you use to download Android SDK tools, platforms, and other components that you need for developing Xamarin.Android apps.

Overview

This guide explains how to use the Xamarin Android SDK Manager in Visual Studio and Visual Studio for Mac.

Note

This guide applies only to Visual Studio 2017 and Visual Studio for Mac.

The Xamarin Android SDK Manager (installed as part of the Mobile development with .NET workload) helps you download the latest Android components that you need for developing your Xamarin.Android app. It replaces Google's standalone SDK Manager, which has been deprecated.

Requirements

To use the Xamarin Android SDK Manager, you will need the following:

  • Visual Studio 2017 (Community, Professional, or Enterprise edition). Visual Studio 2017 version 15.7 or later is required.

  • Visual Studio Tools for Xamarin version 4.10.0 or later (installed as part of the Mobile development with .NET workload).

The Xamarin Android SDK Manager is not compatible with Visual Studio 2015. Users of Visual Studio 2015 should use the SDK Manager tools provided by Google in the Android SDK.

The Xamarin Android SDK Manager also requires the Java Development Kit (which is automatically installed with Xamarin.Android). There are several JDK alternatives to choose from:

  • By default, Xamarin.Android uses JDK 8, which is required if you are developing for API level 24 or greater (JDK 8 also supports API levels earlier than 24).

  • You can continue to use JDK 7 if you are developing specifically for API level 23 or earlier.

  • If you are using Visual Studio 15.8 Preview 5 or later, you can try using Microsoft's Mobile OpenJDK Distribution (currently in preview) rather than JDK 8.

Important

Xamarin.Android does not support JDK 9.

SDK Manager

To start the SDK Manager in Visual Studio, click Tools > Android > Android SDK Manager:

Location of the Android SDK Manager menu item

The Android SDK Manager opens in the Android SDKs and Tools screen. This screen has two tabs – Platforms and Tools:

Screenshot of the Android SDK Manager open in the Platforms tab

The Android SDKs and Tools screen is described in more detail in the following sections.

Android SDK location

The Android SDK location is configured at the top of the Android SDKs and Tools screen, as seen in the previous screenshot. This location must be configured correctly before the Platforms and Tools tabs will function properly. You may need to set the location of the Android SDK for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. The Android SDK Manager was unable to locate the Android SDK.

  2. You have installed the Android SDK in a alternate (non-default) location.

To set the location of the Android SDK, click the ellipsis (…) button to the far right of Android SDK Location. This opens the Browse For Folder dialog to use for navigating to the location of the Android SDK. In the following screenshot, the Android SDK under Program Files (x86)\Android is being selected:

Screenshot of the Windows Browse For Folder dialog locating android sdk

When you click OK, the SDK Manager will manage the Android SDK that is installed at the selected location.

Tools tab

The Tools tab displays a list of tools and extras. Use this tab to install the Android SDK tools, platform tools, and build tools. Also, you can install the Android Emulator, the low-level debugger (LLDB), the NDK, HAXM acceleration, and Google Play libraries.

For example, to download the Google Android Emulator package, click the check mark next to Android Emulator and click the Apply Changes button:

Installing the Android Emulator from the Tools tab

A dialog may be shown with the message, The following package requires that you accept its license terms before installing:

License acceptance screen

Click Accept if you accept the Terms and Conditions. At the bottom of the window, a progress bar indicates download and installation progress. After the installation completes, the Tools tab will show that the selected tools and extras were installed.

Platforms tab

The Platforms tab displays a list of platform SDK versions along with other resources (like system images) for each platform:

Screenshot of the Platforms pane

This screen lists the Android version (such as Android 8.0), the code name (Oreo), the API level (such as 26), and the sizes of the components for that platform (such as 1 GB). You use the Platforms tab to install components for the Android API level that you want to target. For more information about Android versions and API levels, see Understanding Android API Levels.

When all components of a platform are installed, a checkmark appears next to the platform name. If not all components of a platform are installed, the box for that platform is filled. You can expand a platform to see its components (and which components are installed) by clicking the + box to the left of the platform. Click - to unexpand the component listing for a platform.

To add another platform to the SDK, click the box next to the platform until the checkmark appears to install all of its components, then click Apply Changes:

Example of adding Android 7.1 Nougat components to the Android SDK

To install only specfic components, click the box next to the platform once. You can then select any individual components that you need:

Example of adding some Android 7.1 components

Notice that the number of components to install appears next to the Apply Changes button. After you click the Apply Changes button, you will see the License Acceptance screen as shown earlier. Click Accept if you accept the Terms and Conditions. You may see this dialog more than one time when there are multiple components to install. At the bottom of the window, a progress bar will indicate download and installation progress. When the download and installation process completes (this can take many minutes, depending on how many components need to be downloaded), the added components are marked with a checkmark and listed as Installed.

Respository selection

By default, the Android SDK Manager downloads platform components and tools from a Microsoft-managed repository. If you need access to experimental alpha/beta platforms and tools that are not yet available in the Microsoft repository, you can switch the SDK Manager to use Google's repository. To make this switch, click the gear icon in the lower right-hand corner and select Repository > Google (Unsupported):

Selecting Google's repository

When the Google repository is selected, additional packages may appear in the Platforms tab that were not available previously. (In the above screenshot, Android SDK Platform 28 was added by switching to the Google repository.) Keep in mind that use of the Google repository is unsupported and is therefore not recommended for everyday development.

To switch back to the supported repository of platforms and tools, click Microsoft (Recommended). This restores the list of packages and tools to the default selection.

Summary

This guide explained how to install and use the Xamarin Android SDK Manager tool in Visual Studio and Visual Studio for Mac.