Skip to main content

CLI Command - serve android

The portals serve android command is a tool for web developers to debug and test their web code in different Portal configurations on an emulator or a device without having to go through the build process of a native application or even have access to its source code. The command allows web developers to run their web code from their local dev server and see the changes on the fly.


The serve command requires Ionic Portals 0.9.0 or higher and requires that the portal has devMode set to true.


The serve command for Android depends on tools available with an installation of Android Studio. Use of Android studio for development is not required for using the Portals CLI, but it is an easy way to install the Android SDK for you and the required tools.

Android Studio also provides a helpful GUI for creating Emulators for testing your app, and for managing the installed version of the Platform Tools and SDK.

The following environment variables must be set in order for the portals serve android command to function correctly:

  • Set the $ANDROID_HOME variable to the path of the Android SDK installation directory.
  • Set the $JAVA_HOME variable to the path of the Java SDK installation directory.


portals serve android \
--application /path/to/your/android-app.apk \

This command will present an interactive list of eligible destinations since no specific device details were provided. When selected, the command will launch the Android app to the selected device and will override all portals with the content served from the development server URL by default. If a capacitor.config.{json, ts, js} file is located in the current working directory, it will use that, otherwise it will fallback to any configuration potentially shipped in the application.


If the local dev server is set to localhost the CLI will attempt to help you by correcting this host to for running in an emulator. Android emulators are unable to reach the host machine through localhost as this is reserved as the loopback address for reaching the emulator itself. Make sure to set the dev server address correctly if you need to reach it via your local network from a real Android device.


Specify capacitor configuration file

portals serve android \
--application /path/to/your/android-app.apk \
--dev-server \
--capacitor-config /path/to/your/capacitor.config.ts

Specify device details

If you know the specific device ID of the emulator or device you want to target, you can use the --device-id flag:

portals serve android \
--application /path/to/your/android-app.apk \
--dev-server \
--device-id "emulator-5554"

The ID of the emulator or device is the ID shown when running adb devices.

Specify portal name

If you want to override only portals with a specific name, use the --portal-name flag:

portals serve android \
--application /path/to/your/android-app.apk \
--dev-server \
--portal-name "profile"


  • --device-id (string) The ID of the target device.
  • -h, --help help for android

Global Flags:

  • --application (string) Path to the native application. (required)
  • --dev-server (string) URL of the development server. (required)
  • --capacitor-config (string) Path to the capacitor configuration file.
  • --portal-name (string) The name of the target Portal. (default "PORTAL")
  • --config (string) config file (default $PWD/.portals.yaml)

Troubleshooting connectivity issues

The Android emulator should be able to reach web servers running on the host machine through the IP address This sometimes may not work due to firewall policies, VPN settings, or other environmental changes. If you are having trouble connecting to your local web server from an emulator, try these troubleshooting steps.

Make sure your application supports Internet connectivity

The Android manifest file should contain the following permission

<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.INTERNET" />

Cleartext web content

If you are testing with an http server you may encounter an issue displaying a cleartext web page due to the default Android security settings. There are two ways to permit this content to load:

  • Add android:usesCleartextTraffic="true" to your Android manifest application tag, or
  • Create a more narrowly scoped Network Security Config that permits cleartext traffic on your specific test domain only.

Emulator network troubleshooting

If the local web server fails to load with errors like net::ERR_CACHE_HIT or net::ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED, you may have network settings preventing the emulator/device from using Android’s loopback address. One way to confirm if this is your problem is to try loading your local web server from the emulator web browser.

Double check that your local web server is actually running, then open Chrome in the emulator and go to the URL for your web app. If it loads, then the issue is related to your app specifically. If it does not load, then the emulator as a whole is having issues connecting to the web server on your local machine through the virtual network.


Reminder: the emulator does not reach your local development machine through the localhost url, as this is the loopback address for the emulator virtual machine itself. The IP address for your local machine from the emulator is

If you are unable to reach your web server, try creating a proxy connection through the Android Debug Bridge app (adb). This is done using the terminal. For example:

To link localhost:8080 on your emulator to localhost:8080 on your development machine, open the terminal and run:

$ANDROID_HOME/platform-tools/adb reverse tcp:8080 tcp:8080

This will create a proxy through to the emulator and should allow the web content to load on the emulator through localhost:8080 in the emulator web browser. Since the Portals CLI tries to be helpful by changing localhost to in your app dev-server setting, you can force the localhost IP in your app by setting the development server to, such as:

portals serve android \
--application /path/to/your/android-app.apk \