Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp
Ads by Google

In many cases, Android apps are superior to desktop apps. They’re compact, often better written, and have a low resource footprint.

Many popular services have a surfeit of mobile apps, but little on offer for desktop platforms, save the odd browser app. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to run mobile apps on your desktop PC? You might be testing a newly developed app or simply want to enjoy your Android app library on a desktop or laptop computer (perhaps following the theft of your device Don’t Be A Victim: Practical Tips To Protect Your Smartphone From Theft Don’t Be A Victim: Practical Tips To Protect Your Smartphone From Theft Considering the cost of a new smartphone, most of us are extremely casual about how we treat them. But keeping tabs on your smartphone isn’t difficult. Keeping it safe from the possibility of theft is... Read More ).

Whatever the case, several methods are available for you to choose from that will enable you to run virtually any Android app on Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X.

Android Studio

For a complete Android experience on your desktop computer, the best option is to setup Android Studio (formerly the Official Android Emulator).

mobile-emulator-android-sdk

As explained in our previous guide 3 Ways To Run Android Apps On Windows 3 Ways To Run Android Apps On Windows Interested in Android? You don’t have to buy a device or go to a physical electronics store (do those still exist?) to try it out. You can run individual Android apps and play with the... Read More , this requires that you have the Java Development Kit installed on your computer, a decision that might result in some security issues if you don’t update regularly, so keep that in mind.

Ads by Google

Once installed, the Android Studio enables you to download a ROM to boot your virtual Android device with, and when it is up and running, you can begin to install and run apps from Google Play, just as easily as if you were using a handheld Android device.

While a useful option for anyone wishing to fully emulate an Android environment and apps (perhaps for testing an app you developed), this is probably the toughest solution. Fortunately, it gets simpler.

BlueStacks App Player

muo-android-emus-bluestacks

Perhaps the most effective way to run Android apps on your computer without worrying about installing a full emulated environment is to deploy the BlueStacks App Player BlueStacks Lets You Experience Android From The Computer BlueStacks Lets You Experience Android From The Computer Back in January, BlueStacks was introduced to MUO readers in an article that provides similar alternatives to the emulation software. Since then, the development of BlueStacks has progressed in a way that, in my opinion,... Read More . Available for Windows XP or later and Mac OS X Snow Leopard or later, this is a great way to get apps up and running with minimal fuss.

Many apps, from games to things like WhatsApp can run on your PC with Bluestacks. Chris Hoffman examined how simple it is to use BlueStacks App Player by showing you how to install WhatsApp on your computer How To Run WhatsApp & Other Mobile Messaging Apps On Your PC How To Run WhatsApp & Other Mobile Messaging Apps On Your PC Most mobile messaging apps don't offer a desktop client or web interface and not even a Windows 8 app. We show you a workaround for running the Android versions on your Windows or Mac computer. Read More , and this is just a hint of what BlueStacks can do.

Perhaps the only real issue with this app is that it doesn’t play well with Windows 8 tablet computers (such as, for example, the Surface Pro series).

Windroy

Winroy

BlueStacks isn’t the only Android app playing emulator in town. A popular alternative, Windroy is a Windows-only (as you might have guessed from the title) emulator that can run in fullscreen and windowed mode and accept input from a mouse and keyboard.

As there is no access to Google Play with Windroy, you’ll need to enable apps to be installed from unknown sources, but as you’re playing around with Android then you’re probably familiar with this. Some configuration tweaks are required, as explained previously by Craig Emulate Android On Your Desktop Using Windroy Emulate Android On Your Desktop Using Windroy Do you wish you could run your favorite Android apps from the comfort of your Windows computer? You've probably heard of BlueStacks before, and if you haven't then you're missing out on the most popular... Read More .

If BlueStacks (or any of the other Android app emulation methods) has let you down, then Windroy might be the answer to your dreams of running your favourite Android apps on your desktop computer.

Android-x86

muo-windows8tablet-android-website

Rather than emulating Android on your computer, why not install it? The Android-x86 project was developed to enable Android — intended for devices with ARM processors — to be run on desktops and laptops built around the Intel architecture. I previously demonstrated how to use Android-x86 to install Android on a Windows 8 tablet How to Install Android on Your Windows 8 Tablet How to Install Android on Your Windows 8 Tablet Windows 8 tablets are becoming more widely used, but the operating system – at least in its Modern mode – is light on the ground with particular apps. One way around this is to install... Read More .

You have two options for running Android-x86: run it in a virtual machine such as YouWave or VirtualBox 3 Ways To Run Android Apps On Windows 3 Ways To Run Android Apps On Windows Interested in Android? You don’t have to buy a device or go to a physical electronics store (do those still exist?) to try it out. You can run individual Android apps and play with the... Read More (the latter is free) or install it on your PC hard disk drive for dual booting (or even as your main operating system!).

Android-x86 can also be run as a live operating system from DVD or USB, enabling you to try it out before you install it or even keep it as a portable Android device that you can plug into any PC and use.

Run Apps in Google Chrome Browser

Probably the most straightforward method of running Android apps on your computer is to take advantage of a Chrome browser plugin and use an Android-based converter to enable a downloaded app to be run within the browser.

muo-android-emus-chrome

While arguably the least successful method of running Android apps on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux devices (file size can be an issue), it is certainly the most accessible and can give you an idea of just what is possible.

Justin’s guide on using the ARChon browser extension How To Run Android Apps in Chrome on Mac / Linux / Windows How To Run Android Apps in Chrome on Mac / Linux / Windows It's now possible to run Android apps in the Chrome browser -- it just takes a little bit of work. Read More and Android plugin explains everything you need to know about this method, as well as offering some alternatives.

Which Method Would You Recommend?

We’ve shown you six ways that you might emulate Android or run Android apps on your PC.

Have you used any of them? Do you recommend one ahead of the others? Could there be a solution we’ve overlooked? Tell us in the comments.

  1. Danis
    August 31, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    What's notable is that archon, the chrome extension, doesn't store app history. I.E., any book marks in browsers or progress in games would be wiped everytime the app closes.

  2. Anne-Marie
    August 29, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Does my PC have to be 64bit, as I have it 32bit?

  3. Humpity Dump
    October 16, 2015 at 4:59 am

    Don't bother with emulators, just use a real phone and transfer files by wifi and ftp.

  4. Ben Leverett
    October 1, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    You missed AMiDuOS, it's a very promising android emulator/system. The two features I like the most are:

    1. The ability to run android full screen, and seamlessly, meaning you can switch between it, and windows, at the touch of a button.

    2. You can pin any running android apps to your windows taskbar, so they otherwise appear as a normal running windows processes. I'm REALLY liking this!!!!!

  5. Linda Milne
    September 5, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    i have an older laptop, i have tried bluestacks and recently windroye it goes unreponsive often. when it works the game loads but doesnt open, does anyone know how to fix the problem... windroye version 2.8.2a

    • Asad Ali
      October 25, 2015 at 2:14 pm

      You better to upgrade your system.

  6. prahlad kardam
    June 2, 2015 at 7:35 am

    hi...when i try to download any apps from google play store In andy OS it shows some error ..what to do plz help .

  7. gaojibao
    May 20, 2015 at 10:17 am

    if mobdro on pc doesn't work ,first download java for pc then it will work like hell.

  8. Tron
    March 12, 2015 at 5:47 am

    Is it possible to download an app and transfer it to another android device by usb?

    • Christian Cawley
      March 14, 2015 at 6:46 pm

      From Android to Android, or PC to Android? If the first, you could copy to PC first, them PC to second Android. You should also be able to send an APK file via Bluetooth to another device, or use WiFi Direct, assuming you have a file manager installed. See this: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/transfer-files-android-pc/

  9. chigginskeywest
    March 11, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    Just installed Bluestacks and its working for me !

  10. Rajan
    March 10, 2015 at 7:59 am

    Only thing I want to use android emulator on my pc is for Instagram. Tried with Bluestacks, Andy, Genymotion; all of them failed. Let me try some other mentioned apps from here.

  11. Alpha
    March 10, 2015 at 3:11 am

    Hi. What security issues does that Java emulator have?

    • Doc
      March 10, 2015 at 1:45 pm

      Probably the same security issues that Java has become known for: compromised or untrustworthy websites using the Java browser plugins to infect your PC. Disable the browser plugins and you should be OK, but be sure to keep an up-to-date, trusted antivirus on your PC just in case.

  12. Leslie Ruo
    March 9, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    I find Andy the Android Emulator to be much better than Bluestacks.
    http://www.andyroid.net
    I used it to run an Andoir app for the JCG Internet Camera on a Dell Inspiron Laptop

  13. Russell
    March 9, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    BlueStacks is something I would absolutely NEVER touch - in the download I got there was STACKS of third-party sw that was a real pain to uninstall -- but I'm stunned people haven't heard of Andy a long time ago -- it's certainly not great, and a recurrent "issue" is that when you use herdProtect it says several AV products report "it" (several parts) as a problem. But several other "sources" (e.g., AndroidCentral, WonderHowTo etc etc) have discussed Andy before, including how to set up apk apps as Chrome apps.

  14. Alistair Clarke
    March 9, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Just read this interesting article. Any one got any idea if this will work with a chromebook please ( Mine is a Acer C710 with the 320 Gb Hard drive) ? Thanks.

  15. Nathanael Bunge
    March 9, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    BlueStacks Mac is discontinued

  16. Christian Cawley
    March 8, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    Thanks to everyone who suggested Andy, which I'm going to check tonight. Oddly, I haven't heard of it (and I also produce Android articles for a popular print magazine on the same topic) but I'm very interested to find out more. Also, I'll be checking DuOS and gentymotion this week too.

    Great feedback people, keep them coming.

  17. sean
    March 6, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    I've found genymotion to be a great android emulator, and it works on windows, OSX and Linux. You can also have multiple versions and choose tablets and smart phones.

  18. FredEx
    March 6, 2015 at 6:51 am

    I tried them all and Bluestacks is the winner. I play one game that it helps if you can play 24/7. With Bluestacks I have no problem firing up the game and using a Win mouse macro program to routinely do mouse clicks to keep the game active. I could not get the others to reliably stay running 24/7.

  19. Jimmy Foster
    March 6, 2015 at 6:33 am

    No mention of DuOS? It'll cost you 10 bucks after 30 days, but it's freaking worth it. This coming from the guy who has run Android using x86 on a virtual machine and Bluestacks. x86 I was constantly having to press control to release my mouse pointer and like someone already pointed out, a lot of Android apps won't support x86 architecture. Bluestacks wants you to pay or install crap sponsored software to keep using it. DuOS so far hasn't given me any issues. You'll have to install the google apps manually, but it's beyond easy to do.

    • alex
      March 6, 2015 at 10:05 pm

      thanks for the tip. Just bought it

    • alex
      March 6, 2015 at 10:06 pm

      Ill have to see how it compares to Andy. Have you tried Andy yet?

    • Jimmy Foster
      March 6, 2015 at 11:56 pm

      I haven't. I tried to on my old laptop, but the graphics card wasn't compatible. Haven't gotten around to it on this one yet.

    • Tom
      March 10, 2015 at 7:47 pm

      You beat me to it. I had tried several emulators and had various issues with them. My main goal was to find one that would work with certain video apps....like mobdro, showbox, videomix and hbogo. Of all the emulators I tried. DuOS was they only one that played all of them flawlessly. Well worth the 10 bucks for a lifetime.

    • Jimmy Foster
      March 10, 2015 at 8:35 pm

      Right? The only gripe I've got so far is the amount of RAM it sucks down. Unfortunately, upgrading my isn't an option. So I just watch what I run when DuOS is on.

  20. Edmundo
    March 6, 2015 at 5:02 am

    I've been using Genymotion on my PC to play some Android games. It runs Android in a VirtualBox VM, but packaged nicely with some extra features. There is a feature-limited, free version for personal use. Seems like Play Store access is included.

    • Vinny
      March 13, 2015 at 7:24 am

      Genymotion is a very good Phone simulator running versions of android.
      So it simulates the whole phone instead of running android on your PC.

      It is a good tool. I use it often to verify Apps on several phones before releasing it to market

  21. Carol Elkins
    March 5, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    Before I purchased an Android tablet, I had a 2012 Kindle Fire. Frustrated by Amazon's limitations to Android apps and not able to sideload apps since I didn't have an Android phone or other device, I installed Bluestacks on my computer. It allowed me to access to Google Play and download apps to my PC. From there, it was easy to move the apps to Dropbox and load them on my Kindle Fire. Bluestacks was a godsend, but it often froze, requiring a total PC reboot. That was my only complaint with the program. Easy to install and didn't require anything geeky. If anyone needs that procedure, it's at "https://eweforia.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/how-to-install-google-play-store-apps-on-a-kindle-fire-when-you-dont-have-another-android-device/" It is a little dated now, but is still useful.

  22. Arpit Kharbanda
    March 5, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    Hey Christian, You forgot Andy, which is much better than Bluestacks Android Emulator.
    Here's Full explanation of my statement:

    Ease of use and setup:
    Our first category is ease of use and setup. After all, what good is an emulator if you can't figure out how to use it, right?

    BlueStacks
    For Bluestacks, setting things up was ridiculously easy. You go to the site, download the application, install it, and go. It’s super easy. Once you’re inside you can browse and install various games and access them on the bar at the top. When it comes to ease of use and setting things up, Bluestacks is practically idiot proof.

    Andy:
    Andy started out the same way. Downloading and installing the app was easy. I did have a problem actually getting it to run but thanks to their support, I was able to figure out the problem. Once you actually start it up, it runs like any Android phone or tablet so the interface is familiar.

    Andy does get some points for having a good support staff. They use Facebook as their support page and their people are generally pretty knowledgeable. In fact, shout out to Charlie from Andy because he’s the dude that helped me.

    Winner: BlueStacks

    Gaming:
    One of the bigger reasons people want Android on their computer is so they can play some games on it. Thankfully, both Andy and BlueStacks support gaming.

    BlueStacks:
    In Bluestacks, it appears as though the main focus is for gaming. They don’t really recommend any normal applications and we assume the recommended games are ones that have been tested with Bluestacks. The games run fairly well. You can get ones in the Play Store that aren’t listed in Bluestacks recommendations but they tend to run a little clunkier than the recommended ones.

    Andy:
    Andy focuses on an overall experience and offers a lot. It plays games well and in some cases, like Clash of Clans, it actually plays the game better than Bluestacks in terms of stability. This is especially true for network-based games which seemed to load a lot faster on Andy. Andy does have a remote option where you can use your device as a controller for better gaming support if you so choose. BlueStacks does allow game controller support as well but it requires a wired controller.
    Winner: Andy

    Productivity:
    The other really big reason people want Android on their PC is for productivity purposes. It’s a fun operating system to have but it can also help get some work done.

    BlueStacks:
    Here Bluestacks doesn’t fail utterly but it comes close. It doesn’t seem to like to run regular Android apps as well it does games and that’s a shame. For instance, there was an excruciating amount of lag when simply typing in Google Drive. It doesn’t recommend any productivity apps so you have to go out of your way to find them. Really, Bluestacks wants to be a gaming emulator and it shows here. That said, there are a few productivity apps that do work well so if you need it for something very light, it could still work.

    Andy:
    Like we stated earlier, Andy focuses on a more rounded experience and this is where it shows. The same sort of problems I was having on Bluestacks weren’t present in Andy. The Google Drive lag wasn’t present, apps loaded quickly and worked well. It’s also worth noting here that Andy can run things like Hangouts, and third party launchers, deliver notifications, and even use widgets. It also runs a higher version of Android than Bluestacks and that means you’ll have a higher app compatibility as well as better app stability.

    Winner: Andy

    Misc features:
    We’ve talked about the big stuff, but what about the little things? They matter too!

    BlueStacks:
    Bluestacks is pretty much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get deal. In a small way, simplicity is elegance and that means there isn’t as much guess work. That said you can sync Bluestacks with your Android devices to sync app data, texts, and the like if you wanted to. You can also sideload applications which is a fairly simple process. Overall, there are some things, but really not that many.

    Andy:
    You can do pretty much anything with Andy that you can do with an Android phone. That includes sideloading applications, putting files on there from your computer if need be, file browsing, and some stuff we mentioned earlier like fully functioning notifications, widgets, and you can even root it if you need to.

    One of the things I really liked personally was the ability to install third party launchers. Since it runs pretty much like any Android device, you can customize it like any Android device so between the custom launchers, wallpapers, widgets, icon packs, etc, you can turn Andy into a little window of customization and make it really yours.

    The last thing I want to mention here is the ability to change the specs of Andy. It runs in a virtual machine which is actually customizable. You can open up the Virtual Box that comes with Andy and give it some extra RAM, change how many CPU cores it has, and various other small things as well. Beware, this is advanced user stuff, but you can totally go in there and give this bad boy 3GB of RAM instead of one and actually improve the performance.

    Winner: Andy

    Bottom line: BlueStacks will need to improve to retake its crown.

    Overall:
    Overall, picking which one is better really depends on your needs. If you need something super simple that plays some light games and you really don’t need it to do much else, then Bluestacks is still probably your best bet. After all, like we said earlier, there is an advantage to having simplicity.

    However, if you’re willing to go through the slightly more complicated set up process, then Andy is by far the more full-featured Android emulator. It’s way better for customization and productivity and, in some cases, even better at gaming. With the power user stuff available like root and adding resources, Andy is simply a better option for more demographics. Adieu!

    • alex
      March 5, 2015 at 7:03 pm

      How could they forget Andy. So so so much better then bluestacks.

  23. likefunbutnot
    March 4, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    For a while, I tried running Android x86 in a virtual machine. It turns out that quite a few Android Developers don't bother to make Android x86-native binaries, so app compatibility can be hit or miss.

    Bluestacks seems to work well enough, but there's the caveat that it's not a licensed Android installation and it does not have direct Play Store support. That's not a big deal if users know other ways to get .apk files, but otherwise it's a lot like having a $50 Generic device with limited and untrustworthy application installation options.

    Setting up Chrome to run Android apps is just too much work.

    • alex
      March 5, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      try andy. Its a piece of cake and has full play store support. Its legit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *