A few years back, we only had one or two option to run Android Apps on the computer — Bluestacks and YouWave. But things have changed now.
We now have a handful of Android emulators in the market.
Some of them are free, others are paid.
Some need a graphics card, others don’t.
Some work only on Windows, others are cross-platform.
In short, we have many options now. And options are a good thing. But it also makes the selection difficult.
Now, you don’t have to waste time, to find the best Android emulators for you. I have been following this niche, for quite some time now. And based on my experience, I will tell you the pros and cons of every Android emulator in the market.
So let’s get it started.
Run Android Apps On PC
It’s the oldest and probably the first Android emulator in the market. There was a time when it dominates the market, not just because of the monopoly, but it was quite really good.
However, there are two major issues with it.
One, it requires a graphics card (and a powerful system) to work well. In fact, one of my post on how to get Whatsapp on your PC using Bluestacks has 300+ comments on bluestacks error.
And two, it follows a freemium model now. This gives you two option — either pay 2$/month subscription fees to use the app or download a sponsored app frequently (which can go as far as one app a day)
Bluestacks is a popular program to run android apps on PC. And It does what it says, well pretty much.
But installing it is a tedious process since it requires a powerful computer. Also, I am not a fan of their monetization policy. So, I would probably avoid it now.
Download bluestacks (MAC | Windows)
Soon after Bluestacks confirmed the huge demand for android emulators, YouWave made the entry.
Now, compare to bluestacks, YouWave put a lot less load on your system. Installation is smooth and it works well in the background.
Apparently, they had made a few changes in their pricing. YouWave now comes in two android versions— ICS and Lollipop. The former one is free (ads supported) while the later one charges 30$ (10 days trial)
YouWave is an optimized version of bluestacks. It’s system friendly.
However, I won’t suggest, buying it for personal purposes. But, if you can live up with the ICS OS, then sure give it try. Though, most apps won’t run smoothly there.
I tried Whatsapp on YouWave and it works fine. But had a tough time running games like Temple Run 2 and Instagram, which worked fine on bluestacks.
Download YouWave | (Windows only)
The concept of this emulator is mind-blowing, It lets you run Android apps online, yes I said online.
But here is the catch, it’s not completely FREE. The trial version offers 10 time-limited launch per month. And this is no way sufficient for an average user.
Moreover, it can not run heavy apps/games and need high-speed broadband. But that’s acceptable for an online emulator. Right?
Setting it up is pretty straight forward. I have also done a video tutorial on ManyMo.
ManyMo is useful on the go tool for developers. No need to install SDK for testing apps.
Sometimes e-commerce and recharge company offer coupons that can only be avail through their Android apps. ManyMo is useful in such a situation. But for regular use, it’s not a good option.
ManyMo | (Web only)
#4 Andy Emulator
Unlike Bluestacks; Andy is a stock android emulator. It runs on a virtual machine that comes with it. And because of stock Android, we get pure Android experience. I dig that.
However running and installing Andy, is not a child play. It also requires high system configuration and I did face a few problems while installing it. (though it was resolved easily with little Google search)
Again, it’s worth mentioning, some people have reported that Andy installs spyware in the background. Now, In my few months of usage, I never face such issues, but keep this in mind.
Andy Emulator looks like a real android device running on PC. It’s customizable, you can even add wallpaper, widgets, shortcuts, notification, etc. And most importantly, it’s completely free.
However, like bluestacks, it does use a lot of system resources. If you have a powerful system, go for it. All apps I tested, work well.
Download Andy Emulator (MAC | PC)
#5 KitKat 4.4 with virtual box
Developers use this method to tests their apps in real time. And there is no reason why you can’t use it as well. And yes, it’s completely free.
Installation can be tricky at first. First, install the virtual box on your computer. And then run Android KitKat or Lollipop stock Rom inside it.
Meant for developers but can be put into general use by the tech-savvy person. I suggest you try genymotion, which is more optimize the version of this.
Available for Windows | MAC | Linux
Update 1 –
So finally tried genymotion today. And it was better than I expected. it’s yet another android emulator that works on PC/MAC/Linux.
But what makes it different from rest is, it runs easily. Also, it’s free for personal use.
To get started, head over to their official website and create a free account. Now download the genymotion. I suggest you download the bundle that contains both genymotion+virtual boxes ( of course skip it if you have already had one). Next, install a virtual device and your good to go.
In my testing, I tried heavy apps like fruit ninja and it runs flawlessly.
Installing and getting used to it, was a bit challenging but once you get it working, you are all set. Genymotion is similar to Android SDK on the virtual box however it’s more optimized. Overall a good alternative to bluestacks.
It’s one of my favorite android emulators, and if you can overcome the technical challenges, it’s worth it.
Download GennyMotion (Windows | MAC)
#7 ARC Welder (not working well now)
Finally found the best solution to run Android apps on Computer. What?
Well, Google recently released a new project called, ARC welder. It’s a chrome extension for developers to test apps before releasing it on Play Store. But it’s extremely user-friendly.
I have been testing it for a few days now, and this is what I like:
- It runs on every platform i.e. Windows, Mac, and Linux
- Installation is smooth and easy
- Give you pure Android experience
The only problem is, as of now, it can run only light apps like Instagram and Whatsapp. Fruit Ninja didn’t work. Check out following video on how to upload a picture to Instagram from a computer with ARC Welder.
Get ARC Welder here
Apparently, things have gone south for ARC Welder. It’s not working flawlessly, as it once used to be. A lot of people have commented on my ARC welder video, that they are not able to install Instagram on it.