Android DIY

How to Install Android on a Raspberry Pi

Christian Cawley Updated 10-12-2019

Although there are so many operating systems available for the Raspberry Pi, you might prefer to stick with one based on Linux. But what about the lack of touchscreen support?


Perhaps the best solution is to install Android on Raspberry Pi. But how well does it work, and is there a significant difference from its mobile version? Let’s find out.

Why Install Android Instead of Linux on Raspberry Pi?

Linux is widely available for the Raspberry Pi. From the Raspbian Stretch distribution released by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, to Arch Linux, versions of Ubuntu, and more, it’s the mainstream choice. The lightweight Raspberry Pi operating systems 6 Lightweight Operating Systems for Your Raspberry Pi Need to squeeze some extra processing power out of your Raspberry Pi? You should try a lightweight operating system. These examples will get you started. Read More (typically used when you need a barebones approach) are all based on Linux, too.

So why choose Android for your Raspberry Pi? Well, there’s the touchscreen factor, for starters. None of the other Raspberry Pi operating systems have these, save those running other software on top, such as Kodi.

Android running on a Raspberry Pi 3

Then there’s the choice of apps. While Android for Raspberry Pi isn’t 100 percent stable, it is nevertheless capable of offering a vast selection of apps and games for you to use and play with. Online RPGs, handy utilities, office tools (Microsoft Office, for instance), and much more are available.


You can even build your own Android tablet from scratch How to Build Your Own Android Tablet With Raspberry Pi Fancy building your own tablet? Here's how to build an Android tablet for under $100 with a Raspberry Pi and touchscreen display. Read More .

What You’ll Need

To install Android on Raspberry Pi, you will need:

  • Raspberry Pi 3 or 3B+ model—Android won’t run reliably on lower-spec models
  • A reliable, suitable power supply
  • A high-quality microSD card that’s at least 16GB
  • Display (the official 7-inch Raspberry Pi Touchscreen Display is a good option)
  • Mouse and/or keyboard if you’re not using a touchscreen display

Raspberry Pi 7-inch Touch Screen Display Raspberry Pi 7-inch Touch Screen Display Buy Now On Amazon $60.80

You also must download the Android image for the Raspberry Pi 3. Finally, you’ll need the Etcher software, used for writing disk images to flash storage. This is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux in 32-bit and 64-bit versions.


Let’s get started.

Download: Android for Raspberry Pi 3 (This is our preferred version, although as you’ll see below, other projects are available.)
Download: Etcher

Step 1: Flash Android to microSD Card

With all your files downloaded, start by installing Etcher on your computer. Next, insert the microSD card into your card reader. Also, ensure you’ve unzipped the Android image file and have it ready to use.

Launch Etcher. If you haven’t used this tool before, you’ll see it is far simpler than any alternatives. Etcher features a three-step process:

  1. Click Select image
  2. Browse your device to select the ISO file
  3. Click OK

Flash Android image to Raspberry Pi

It’s as simple as that. Etcher will reformat your SD card, too, so there’s no need to worry about doing this first. The app should detect your microSD card automatically. If not, click Select Drive (or Change if the wrong device is selected) and browse to it.

Finally, click Flash to begin writing to your microSD card. Wait while the process completes, then close Etcher and safely remove the microSD card. You can then insert the card in your powered-off Raspberry Pi 3. Connect a display and input device (keyboard, mouse, touchpad, or touchscreen), then boot it up.

Step 2: Install Android on the Raspberry Pi

When you switch on your Raspberry Pi, Android will boot. The experience may be a little sluggish at first; you can expect an initially slow boot while the system configures. After a few minutes (ours took 90 seconds), however, you should notice normal performance.


From here, you can access the usual default Android apps and get online as normal via the pull-down menu. If your Raspberry Pi 3 is connected to your network via Ethernet, this is already done; otherwise, use Wi-Fi.

Android apps on the Raspberry Pi

At this point, the operating system is up, running, and usable. In many scenarios this might be enough. But what if you want to install apps? The only option is to sideload, importing Android APK files from external storage or a cloud drive.

To do this, however, you’ll first need to enable Unknown Sources in the Settings > Security menu. Find Settings by moving your mouse to the top-right corner of the desktop.

Consider sideloading apps on Android

If you want to install an APK file from your cloud storage, open the storage in the browser and download the APK file. Once downloaded, drag down the notification bar from the top of the screen, and select the APK file to install it.

Check the permissions, then install. It’s not as simple as having access to Google Play, but it’s good enough. If you want access to a store environment, use a Google Play alternative The 4 Best Google Play Alternatives for Downloading Android Apps Don't want to use the Google Play Store? Or don't have access to it? Here are the best alternative app stores for Android. Read More .

Other Android Projects for Raspberry Pi

While we’ve looked at a project that utilizes a specific Android 7.1 build, others are available. These include:

  • emteria.OS: Perhaps the most well-known implementation of Android on Raspberry Pi, emteria.OS is available free or as a premium product (around $21). The free option stops working every eight hours and displays a watermark.
  • LineageOS 15.1 (based on Android 8.1): If you don’t like the restrictions of emteria.OS, this version of Android is a strong alternative.
  • Android Things: This version is a useful Internet of Things platform that runs on the Raspberry Pi 3 and later. While it’s ideal for IoT projects, it’s less suited for running games and apps.

Selecting the right version of Android for your purposes will give you the best results. Take the time to try out all available versions to help make an informed decision.

Consider a Different Board

If the Raspberry Pi isn’t working out for you as an Android device, remember that it’s not the only single-board computer available. Since the Pi launched in 2012, many competitor devices have come along, all offering compact computing with enough power to run a basic desktop or play HD movies. Here are the top single-board computers we recommend.

Rock64 Raspberry Pi alternative
Image Credit: Dave Potts/

On the downside, not all of these solutions are as affordable as the Raspberry Pi. Its inherent cheapness makes it the go-to solution for so many projects. After all, the Raspberry Pi Zero costs just a few dollars!

If you’re considering a replacement for your Raspberry Pi, check these Raspberry Pi alternatives 5 Raspberry Pi Alternatives You Need to Know About The Raspberry Pi is no longer the only board in town. We cover some of our favourite competitors, and why you might want to buy one. Read More . Many of them can run Android.

Does the Raspberry Pi Make a Good Android Device?

Android works well, overall, but it could do with better support for the Raspberry Pi. Happily, there seems to be enthusiasm in providing a workable version of Android for the Pi.

What Android apps might you use on the Raspberry Pi? Well, with a big-screen TV connected, media-related apps are particularly promising. With video apps like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and even Kodi, you could turn the Raspberry Pi into an Android TV box How to Build an Android TV Box With a Raspberry Pi Want to cut the cord and save money on TV? Build your own Android TV box! Here's how to install Android TV on a Raspberry Pi. Read More . Alternatively, you may prefer to run games on your Raspberry Pi-powered Android device.

Unfortunately, support for the Raspberry Pi from Android app developers is non-existent. As such, running apps and games is often a gamble, despite the improved hardware stats of the Raspberry Pi 3. All in all, though, Android runs reasonably well on the Raspberry Pi—better than on some cheap tablets!

Android is a great operating system, but perhaps it’s not the right one for your Raspberry Pi. Looking for an alternative to Raspbian and Linux in general? Plenty of Raspberry Pi-compatible operating systems don’t use Linux 9 Raspberry Pi Operating Systems That Aren't Linux Looking for a Raspberry Pi OS but want to avoid Linux? Check this list of non-Linux Raspberry Pi operating systems for ideas. Read More  and you might also consider using Chrome OS on your Raspberry Pi How to Use Chrome OS on a Raspberry Pi Can't afford a Chromebook? Looking for an alternative to Raspbian? Here's how to install a version of Chrome OS on your Raspberry Pi. Read More .

Related topics: Android, Operating Systems, Raspberry Pi.

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  1. Nick
    June 19, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    Waste of time!!! I did everything and my raspberry pi works like an android device BUT you can't do anything with this "version" of Android. Lot of time to do things that you can do in other device in seconds and working better. I just wanted to make my own tv box and i thing this is not the result i wanted for sure.

  2. Nick
    June 19, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    Very bad guide. Very bad android version. Waste of time.

  3. Anthony Doyle
    May 25, 2019 at 12:06 am

    I also tried to get this working endless times with 3 different SD cards. It just does not work. I feel there are issues with the referenced image file. Don't bother trying.

  4. Tom Ertel
    December 19, 2018 at 2:06 am

    I tried to create a bootable SD card for my Raspberry Pi 3 B+ following the procedure in your article but the SD card will not boot. I tried multiple SD cards and many, many times but it never boots. The files that get loaded onto the SD look like the attached picture. Any advice is welcome.

  5. JerryJ26
    October 11, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    What about logging in with my google account? Will the Play Store work??

  6. Adam
    October 2, 2018 at 1:47 am

    I recently downloaded this and installed in on a sd card. Loaded it up on my RPI3 with 7" touchscreen and it doesn't actually display correctly. I was wondering is there is more instructions beyond installing the .img and loading it.

    • Jason
      November 24, 2018 at 7:55 pm

      Did you have any luck with this I'm having the same problem

  7. Patrick Taylor
    September 2, 2018 at 1:37 am

    Great article! Thank you for posting this. I definitely want to try this. Will Android run on the Raspberry Pi Zero W? I have a device project that I would like to try and the Pi 3 is just physically larger than would be ideal for it? Are Pi accessories like Pi cameras, electret mics and sound modules and speakers supported on Android? Or can they be made to work?

  8. indronil
    April 13, 2018 at 11:11 am

    I was a great fan of MUO but recently I don't even feel like opening this site simply because of articles like this .
    Just please don't post articles just for the sake of posting them.