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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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