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Do you wish you could run your favorite Android apps from the comfort of your Windows computer?
As a PC enthusiast and desktop user, nothing is more frustrating than sitting down with my smartphone and finding an app that I really enjoy. Chances are, that app doesn’t offer any native desktop version. An app like Kik comes to mind. Kik is a great messaging service for your smartphone, but there’s no native way to use Kik from a laptop or desktop. You have to use an emulator.
You’ve probably heard of BlueStacks before, and if you haven’t then you’re missing out on the most popular Android emulator for PC. Using BlueStacks, you can completely emulate Android in a window on your Windows computer. Ever used VirtualBox, a tool for running virtual machines? It’s extremely similar, but tailored only to the Android platform.
An issue that has really eaten away at me is that I cannot get BlueStacks to install properly on my Windows 8 desktop. Therefore, I’ve had to look for a few BlueStacks alternatives. Windroy is one of the nicest that I’ve come to find.
I’ve only given Windroy a spin on my Windows 8 machine, but I’ve read all around the internet that it seems to also be working just fine on Windows Vista and 7. The current download is being hosted through Google Docs and is just over 80 MB in size.
Upon launching Windroy, you’ll first see that it pops out a window that looks very similar to the Windows Command Prompt. This window acts as a log for what is going on in your emulator (which will pop out in another window). Any errors and other important events are reported here, and you’ll need to keep this window open.
The first difference you’ll notice is that, unlike any other emulator that you’ve probably tried (such as BlueStacks or YouWave), Windroy launches in a fullscreen mode. The first thing you should see is a typical Android lock screen, as displayed above. Again, this isn’t very typical. You won’t see it with many other emulators, but Windroy really emulates the entire Android experience.
From this point on, Windroy functions quite similarly to the other emulators. Why use it over others? For example, you may notice significant differences in speed or better compatibility with certain apps. I’d always recommend BlueStacks as the first Android emulator to turn to, simply because of its long track record as being a solid emulator and its consistent updates, but Windroy is an excellent second option if you’re unable to run the application or you encounter issues.
Here are some of the key features that Windroy boasts:
- Runs smoothly on Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8
- Comes with Windows applications such as Flash integrated
- Support for any UI resolution
- Can run in windowed of full-screen mode
- Supports IO devices like the mouse or keyboard
Introducing Windroy to the MakeUseOf audience as an alternative to BlueStacks means I won’t be giving a full rundown on what’s possible with an Android emulator, but I’d definitely like to shed light on a few tricks that you can use to make the emulator work in ways to help you get comfortable with it. It functions differently from competing emulators.
Using Windowed Mode
As aforementioned, Windroy takes up the full screen when you first launch it. If you’d like to restrict it to a window, so that you can focus other windows in your taskbar when not busy in Windroy, that’s completely possible. You’ll just need to set an environment variable.
To do so, you’ll need to right-click My Computer, go into your Properties, click on “Advanced system settings“, then the “Environment variables…” button.
You’ll need to set up a variable called “WINDROY_RESOLUTION” and assign a resolution as the value, similar to what you see in the screenshot above. Apply the changes, completely restart Windroy, and you should not be seeing the application in a window.
If you’ve used another emulator like YouWave, you’ll notice that there are built-in methods of getting to the Google Play store within the emulator. Not on Windroy though. With Windroy, manually installing APKs is how you’ll have to handle getting your favorite apps installed. As explained in the linked article, this will require that you allow apps to be installed from unknown sources.
One of my favorite repositories where you can find APKs is AndroidDrawer. Most popular apps can be found here, and you’ll simply need to download the APK and choose to open and install it after it’s been completed. The process is extremely simple and is basically the same as what you know to do through Google Play, just through another third-party website. Make sure you’re careful when deciding which of these APK repositories to trust, however.
Windroy won’t leave you awed and extremely impressed if you’re used to emulating Android through BlueStacks. BlueStacks has been reported to show more compatibility with a wider range of applications, specifically those from the Kindle’s app store. Many also vouch that BlueStacks offers a higher frame rate and is the best emulator for playing Android games, if that’s what you’re after. Windroy does do its job quite well though, and that’s all that is important. It’s a great second chance if other emulators have given you poor luck.
Let me know what you think of Windroy and how it stacks up against other Android emulators in the comments below.