What is adb?



2015-12-14 09:26

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You hear the phrase "adb" thrown around a lot in Android forums and blogs.  We're guilty of it, too.  But what exactly is adb, and why do you need (or not need) to use it?

According to Google "Android Debug Bridge (adb) is a versatile tool lets you manage the state of an emulator instance or Android-powered device."  That certainly sounds like Google, doesn't it?  To put it simply, adb is two different applications -- one running on your computer (Windows, Linux or Mac) and one running on your phone.  When your phone is connected, and USB debugging is enabled, you can issue commands and communicate with the phone using your computer screen and keyboard.

Your Android phone uses a modified Linux kernel and tools as a base.  This means that quite a few Linux commands can be sent via the adb server (the one running on your computer) to the adb client (the one running on your phone) and they will be executed.  In our example picture, I've sent the "top" command over the wire to my phone, and my phone sent me back the information and printed it to my terminal.