Most of the Android development is centered around Eclipse, although I coded a few applications using IntelliJ IDEA's Community Edition without any problem. Personally, I don't care much about Eclipse's UI drag-and-drop interface. which is anything but impressive. Way more work needs to be done here.
Forget the Emulator, get the Real Deal
Forget the emulator. It's painfully slow, and you can only test a limited number of things on it. I use it only to test how my apps look like on bigger screen sizes, and that's about it. So, if you want to save time, use a real device connected via USB. I'd say you actually need two devices, since odds are, you'll have to test things like SMS, Bluetooth, and anything else requiring device-to-device communication. Even better if your second device has a different screen size. The more different the devices, the better you can test your app.
Don't like XML? Too bad
All of Android's UI is based on XML, which caused most of my initial headaches when I started. Although there are some tools that can assist you with some aspects of the UI, like Action Bar generators (such as the Sherlock, or the one from Johannilsson on Github), I am not aware of a complete GUI builder at this time, that would do all the low-level work and not be a Leaky abstraction .