Installing Google Play Services (GAPPS) on Visual Studio Android Emulators

2015, Oct 28    

2015-10-28 12_39_14-XDEUpdate: I have updated this post for 2017 here, I recommend that you read that instead.

I am developing a Xamarin application that displays maps. On Android, the map control requires that Google Play Services is installed, but most emulator images do include them. I mainly develop on Windows, so I have been using the great Visual Studio Emulator for Android. I prefer it because it is fast and uses Hyper-V. Other emulators like Xamarin's or GenyMotion use VirtualBox under the covers which doesn't work if you have Hyper-V enabled and I have had networking problems when it is installed and my laptop resumes from sleep.

Xamarin has a great article on how to install Google Play Services on their emulators, but it doesn't work with the Visual Studio Emulator. I then found the solution on StackOverflow written Vijay Sargunam. His solution worked perfectly, but was missing a few steps, so the following are my modifications to his work.

  1. Download the correct GAPPS for the Android version from
  2. Use the Additional Tools (small >> icon) for the emulator and go to the SD Card tab.
  3. Select a folder on your computer to sync with the virtual SD card.
  4. Pull from SD card, which will create a folder structure on the selected folder.
  5. Now copy the Gapps fill to the 'Download' folder.
  6. Push to SD card. This will take a little while, and copy the zip file to your emulator.
  7. Run a commmand prompt, and go to sdk\platform-tools in your Android SDK location and run adb devices.
  8. If you see the your emulator in the list, then skip to step 10.
  9. If you do not see emulator, run the following: adb connect :5555</strong> You can find the emulator ip, from within the emulator, go to Settings -> About Phone -> Status and IP section.</li>
  10. Next run, adb shell. This will give you a prompt to the android emulator.
  11. Confirm the gapps file is there: ls /sdcard/Download
  12. Now run, /sdcard/Download/.zip</strong> This should begin the flashing process.</li>
  13. Once the flashing is complete, restart the emulator.
  14. Once you restart, you may see errors with apps like Google+ trying to start up, ignore them for now.
  15. Sign into your Google account and upgrade all apps from Google Play.
  16. When you run your application that requires Google Play services, you may be prompted to upgrade
  17. </ol>

    Voilá, maps running in the emulator!