With cellphones and tablets gaining in processing power, we are seeing a slow but steady convergence of mobile and desktop computing. Usually, this means you get to enjoy software similar to desktop applications on your mobile, but the reverse is possible as well – using mobile software on your home computer. With close to half a million applications in the Google Play store, there are bound to be a number of apps to complement your desktop computing experience.
Chris previously covered 3 Ways to Run Android Apps on Windows. This time around, we’ll show you how to run Android applications on your trusty Mac. And before you ask — no, the irony of running Android on an Apple operating system is not lost on me, but it is great fun!
Run Android 4 ICS In VirtualBox
The easiest way to run Android apps on your Mac is to get the Android operating system working on your Mac with VirtualBox. Lachlan has written a MakeUseOf Guide on VirtualBox, and it’s widely considered one of the best free virtualization solutions.
First, download VirtualBox and a preconfigured image of the Android OS. You can download a VirtualBox image for Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) from VMLite here. Both are free to download. Uncompress the file, look for Android-v4.vbox and open it to start booting Android in VirtualBox.
Finally, select Android Startup from /dev/sda in the VirtualBox boot menu. That’s all there is to it!
Android SDK - Emulator
The Android SDK (software development kit) is free to download from the Android website, and it comes with an Android emulator, pictured below. The emulator is actually targeted at Android app developers, but instead of testing out self-developed apps, you can use it to run Android apps on your computer.
After downloading the SDK core, uncompress the file and open the “android“ file located at android-sdk-macosx -> tools. Make sure all files from the latest Android firmware are checked, and press install.
Once those packages have finished installing, select Manage AVDs… from the Tools drop-down menu, and create a new Android Virtual Device using the firmware you downloaded earlier.
Finally, with your Android Virtual Device selected, hit the Start button to boot up your emulated Android. Although Google gave the Android emulator a performance boost, it’s still not the fastest kid on the block, so you should give it a minute or two to get started.
This is the solution I’m personally most excited about, because instead of running the Android operating system (and the apps on top of that), it actually provides a framework to run the Android applications directly on your computer.
The BlueStacks App Player has been available for Windows for some time, and even got a partnership with ASUS for its efforts. The application only recently appeared on Mac OS X, and is still in alpha version. Only a handful of apps are available for BlueStacks at the moment, with more developers to be added in the months to come. All in all, you should consider it a working prototype, rather than a full-fledged solution.
How do you see yourself using Android on your Mac?