Run Android Apps on Your Windows PC

  • How to run Android apps in Windows Yes, Android apps can run on your PC, and it’s easier than you think Apps on Windows have gotten better. But every once in a while, you’ll stumble upon a really useful mobile app that hasn’t made its way to PC yet. If it runs on Android, though, there’s good news. With the help of third-party software, you can probably run it on your Windows computer. On the other hand, if you’re running a Chromebook, you may want to check out our dedicated guide to installing Android apps on Chrome OS.   FURTHER READING Best Android apps How to speed up Windows Best Windows apps   Unfortunately, getting apps from your phone or tablet to your PC isn’t as easy as installing a Windows program, though Microsoft could be working on an option to bring Android app mirroring in Windows 10. There are a number of ways to do it, however, ranging from emulators to dual-booting. To help simplify things, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide on what software and utilities you need to install Android apps on almost any Windows computer. BLUESTACKS EMULATOR The Bluestacks App Player is one of the most robust Android emulators around, allowing you to run games and apps on Android 7.1.2 (Nougat) on your Windows desktop. It boasts a custom-designed interface that makes it easy to toggle emulation settings and launch apps and “Layercake” technology that uses hardware accelerators to improve the performance of Android games in Windows. If you have a Facebook or Twitch account and a PC with more than 8GB of RAM, you can even broadcast apps and games directly from the Bluestacks window. It’s important to note that while Bluestacks is free, an optional subscription ($2 per month) enables premium support and exclusive offers from app developers. Here’s how to install Bluestacks to your computer’s hard drive: Step 1: Download the installer from the official Bluestacks website. Step 2: Launch the install application and choose the storage location for app and data files. Unfortunately, you can’t change the Bluestacks directory — it will install on your boot drive by default. Step 3: Once Bluestacks finishes installing, launch it. Enter your Google account credentials — you’ll log into the Google Play Store, where you’ll find all of your installed and purchased apps. DUAL BOOTING There’s an alternative to Android emulators that gives you newer versions of Android, but the setup’s a bit more involved. It’s called “dual booting,” and it effectively transforms your Windows computer into an Android device. You’ll gain the option to boot into Android when you switch on your computer, and Android will work just like it does on your smartphone or tablet. It’s not as simple as installing native Android, though. Because computer hardware like Intel processors, graphics cards, and physical hard drives have to be added by a third-party developer to Android, you’ll need to find a custom distribution that supports your machine. Phoenix OS Like the now-defunct Remix OS, Phoenix OS is a full Android 7.1 or 5.1 operating system that runs on your Windows machine. That gives it the functionality of a desktop OS, along with all of the compatibility with Android applications. Here’s how to get yourself set up to use it. Step 1: Go to the Phoenix OS download page and download the latest installer for your PC. Choose the .exe or .ISO file for the version of Android you prefer. Currently, you choose the installer for Android 7.1 or Android 5.1. Step 2: Create a new partition for Phoenix OS to install onto. For more information on how to do that, see our Windows guide. Step 3: Run the Phoenix OS installer and install it on the new partition. Alternatively, create a bootable USB drive with it, and install on boot. Step 4: Choose a volume letter and the size of the volume you want to create. Step 5: Wait for the installation process to complete. Then reboot and choose Phoenix OS from your boot menu. The latest versions of Phoenix OS come preloaded with the Google Play Store, so download your apps from there and away you go! Android-X86   Android-x86 is an open-source project that seeks to port the newest version Android to Windows hardware, which currently is at Android 8.1 RC2 Oreo. The latest version of Android-x86 adds much-welcome support for Google’s notification features, smarter management of background apps, smart text selection, and OpenGL ES 3.x hardware acceleration for Intel, AMD, and Nvidia graphics. Though customizations to the Android OS are minimal, the Android-x86 team did add some meaningful tweaks to give your Android install a desktop-like interface. This version comes with features like a new Taskbar launcher and apps can also launch in resizable windows rather than just full-screen. Android-x86 also lets you customize Android to your liking. You can install third-party themes, home screens, and more without having to worry whether or not they will play nicely together — unlike Remix OS. See this list for supported devices. Here’s how to install Android-x86 to your PC’s hard drive; Step 1: First, make sure your computer’s hard drive has at least 2GB of free space. Download the latest Android-x86 ISO. If your device isn’t listed, download the generic file. Step 2: Download UNetbootin. Open UNetbootin and select the Android-x86 ISO file you downloaded earlier. Select USB drive from the list of options, and click OK. Wait for UNetbootin to copy and install Android-x86 to your flash drive. Step 3: Reboot your computer and select Boot to the Boot Device Selection screen. Then select your flash drive. From the UNetbootin menu, select Install Android-x86 to hard disk. Step 4: Select the partition — or location — to which you want to install Android-x86. The program will ask if you want to format the disk; if you’re unsure, don’t. Step 5: You’ll be asked if you want to install GRUB. Select Yes, and Yes again. You’ll then be asked if you want to “make system r/w,” which enables Android-x86 to read and write data to your hard drive. Select Yes. Step 6: Reboot your computer for the second time. Once installed, as with Phoenix OS, use the Google Play store to install Android apps as you wish.
    • How to run Android apps in Windows We show you how to run Android apps from your Windows PC or tablet. By Mike Bedford | 28 Sep 2018         Although smartphones are available with Windows, as the most popular operating system for handheld devices most of us are using Android while we’re on the move. This means that we have to juggle two operating systems – Windows on our desktop or laptop, something quite different on our phone or tablet. Many of us are used to sharing data between these devices – either by synchronising in the cloud or transferring documents locally via Bluetooth or USB.    But what about sharing software? If you have apps you like on your phone, why can’t you use them on your PC? Conversely, if you have a package that’s useful on your PC, why shouldn’t you be able to use it on your Android tablet? The good news is that you can. Running Android apps and games on Windows You can run Android apps on a Windows PC or laptop using an Android emulator app. BlueStacks is one solution, but you can find a list of the best Android emulators to try. The BlueStacks App Player is free to use. The program will allow you to run Android apps on your Windows machine, but as it’s not a full Android emulator you won’t get the full Android experience.   In order to use BlueStacks you’ll have to sign-in with a Google account; if you don’t have already have one you’ll need to sign up for one as you would on any Android device. A key emphasis of BlueStacks is on playing Android games under Windows, so when you run BlueStacks most of the screen will be taken up with game suggestions. However, unlike some similar packages, BlueStacks includes Google Play, so you can search for and install apps in just the same way as with a true Android phone or tablet. We did experience a few problems, though, such as when we ran the Wind-Up Knight there were texture problems meaning we couldn’t properly see our game.  Secondly, with some apps, the screen looked very pixelated although this is probably inevitable on a large PC screen when you’re using an app that had been written for a small low-resolution screen. Thirdly, on a non-touchscreen PC, zooming with apps that expect pinch- and reverse-pinch gestures can be problematic. BlueStacks’ support pages suggest that Crtl + and Ctrl – should work, but we didn’t find that to be the case and it seems that it’s probably app-dependent. Trending Articles     Trending Articles       Powered By   A solution that claims to provide you with a full Android emulation on your PC is YouWave. Whether the issue of full Android compatibility is an asset compared to the app player approach of BlueStacks, we’re not so sure. YouWave uses Oracle VM VirtualBox as the emulation engine but, paradoxically, if you already have VirtualBox installed you have to uninstall it before installing YouWave.   There are two editions, the Free Edition, which currently runs on Android 4.0.4 (ICS), whilst the Premium Edition runs on 5.1.1 (Lollipop) and costs $29.99, where you’ll need to apply the Activation key within 10 days of purchase.  We found YouWave very similar to BlueStacks, even down to the issues of pixilation and zooming, but whereas BlueStacks seemed like a fully-working Android experience, YouWave reminded us more of an Android Tablet screen on our Windows machine. Either way, both will provide an acceptable Android experience, but if you’re tempted to take the YouWave route, we would definitely suggest you make good use of the free version before deciding whether to buy it. There are other Android emulators out there, which are specifically designed to run Android games, such as KoPlayer that is aimed at those looking to play their favourite Android games on PC. However, you will need a graphics card that supports OpenGL 2.0 in order to run the program. Sponsored Links
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      •   This hearing aid sensation will change your life!in.cdn.hear.com Recommended by     Use Windows programs in Android To run Windows on an Android phone or tablet you’ll need some virtualisation software and a strong internet connection, and to keep your PC running at home. Microsoft’s Remote Desktop app does the job with certain versions of Windows, and soon we’ll also be able to use CrossOver with Android devices running an x86 processor.  Solutions for using Windows applications on an Android device tend to involve accessing a Windows PC or a virtual PC via the cloud rather than running the software directly on your smartphone or tablet. While this is undoubtedly a reflection on the more limited resources available on most Android devices, it’s a perfectly workable solution. The first method is to connect to your home PC using the Microsoft Remote Desktop app on your Android device. We mention this here because it will appeal to some users, and it has the advantage of giving you access to all the software you use on your PC, but there are some serious drawbacks that limit its usefulness. (Note that you can also use Chrome Remote Desktop to control Windows from an Androidtablet or phone).   For a start, although you don’t have to install any software on your PC, it will work only if that PC is running certain editions of Windows. In particular, for Windows 8 you need Enterprise or Pro while for Windows 7 it’s restricted to Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate. Given that most home users have basic or Home editions, it’s not an option. The option is not natively available for Windows 10 users, where there’s no support to run the Remote Desktop Client on Android.  Second, for this to work your home PC has to be switched on while you’re away from home. Needless to say, this will increase your electricity bill and doesn’t do much for the environment. Finally, although you can run the Remote Desktop app on any Android device, if you’re going to be using it to any great extent, a tablet would make a lot more sense than a smartphone. After all, trying to navigate a Windows desktop on a small smartphone screen is going to involve a lot of zooming and panning.  Soon we’ll be able to run Windows programs without any problems through CrossOver by codeweavers. Although this option will be limited to certain Android devices (as it will require an x86 processor) and potentially be buggy depending on what will be running. Nevertheless, the option is always worth having. Dual-boot Android and Windows A small but growing number of platforms have been designed to natively run both Windows and Android. Industry experts are divided on whether these all-in-one machines will really take off, but it’s a potentially interesting solution to the Windows-Android dichotomy. Laptops, PCs and hybrid laptop-tablets that run Android and Windows are worth tracking down if it appeals. We’ve found devices like these are popular in China, and you can look on a site such as GearBest for more details (but be sure to read our grey-market tech buying advice before you make a purchase).
      • Android’s application ecosystem has proven to be versatile and developer-friendly after a bit of a slow start. You are free to develop an app for Android and publish it to the Play Store with just a few basic restrictions. This has led to a plethora of really cool Android apps, some of which aren’t available on iOS or other platforms. Running Android apps usually requires an Android smartphone or tablet — obviously! — but what if you currently use iOS and want to try Android without actually getting an Android device? Fortunately, with a little leg work, you can run Android apps on a regular old Windows PC. There are a few different ways to go about it, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Android Studio One popular way to get Android apps running on a PC is to go through the Android emulator released by Google as part of the official Android Studio. The emulator can be used to create virtual devices running any version of Android you want with different resolutions and hardware configurations. The first downside of this process is the somewhat complicated setup process.   You’ll need to grab the installer from Google’s site and run through the setup process to download the platforms you want — probably whatever the most recent version of Android happens to be at the time (7.1 at the time of publishing). Google has some pre-configured emulation options available in the menu for Nexus/Pixel devices, but you can set the parameters manually, too. Once you’ve booted your virtual device, you’ll need to get apps installed, but the emulator is the bone stock open source version of Android — no Google apps included. Since there’s no Play Store, you need to do some file management. Take the APK you want to install (be it Google’s app package or something else) and drop the file into the tools folder in your SDK directory. Then use the command prompt while your AVD is running to enter (in that directory) adb install filename.apk. The app should be added to the app list of your virtual device. The big upside here is that the emulator is unmodified Android right from the source. The way apps render in the emulator will be the same as they render on devices, and almost everything should run. It’s great for testing app builds before loading them onto test devices. The biggest problem is that the emulator is sluggish enough that you won’t want to make a habit of running apps in it. Games are really out of the question as well. BlueStacks App Player If you’re looking to get multiple apps and games up and running on your computer with the minimum of effort, BlueStacks is your friend. The BlueStacks App Player presents itself as just a way to get apps working, but it actually runs a full (heavily modified) version of Android behind the scenes. Not only that, but it has the Play Store built-in, so you have instant access to all of your purchased content. It actually adds an entry to your Google Play device list, masquerading as an Android device. The BlueStacks client will load up in a desktop window with different app categories like games, social, and so on. Clicking on an app or searching does something unexpected — it brings up the full Play Store client as rendered on tablets. You can actually navigate around in this interface just as you would on a real Android device, which makes it clear there’s a lot more to BlueStacks than the “App Player” front end. In fact, you can install a third-party launcher like Nova or Apex from the Play Store and set it as the default. The main screen in BlueStacks with the app categories is just a custom home screen, so replacing it makes BlueStacks feel almost like a regular Android device. Bluestacks playing Lumino City. Having full Play Store access means you won’t be messing around with sideloading apps, and BlueStacks manages to run apps pretty well. Most games are playable, but keep in mind you’ll have trouble operating many of them with a mouse. If your PC has a touch screen, you can still use apps and games that rely on more than one touch input. BlueStacks can essentially make a Windows tablet PC into a part-time Android tablet. BlueStacks calls the technology that makes this possible “LayerCake” because Android apps run in a layer on top of Windows. The only real issue with BlueStacks is that it’s not running a standard Android build. All the alterations the company made to get apps working on a PC can cause issues — some apps fail to run or crash unexpectedly. This customized environment is also of little value as a development tool because there’s no guarantee things will render the same on BlueStacks as they might on a real Android device without all the back-end modifications. It’s also a freemium service with a $2 pro subscription, or you can install a few sponsored apps.   Android PC ports If you don’t mind a little extra hassle, you can have a more fluid Android app experience by installing a modified version of the OS on your PC. There are a few ports of Android that will run on desktop PCs, but not all systems will be able to run them properly. The two leading choices for a full Android installation on PC are the Android-x86 Project  and Remix OS (pictured above), which is based on x86. There’s also an “app player” version of Remix that runs within Windows, but I’ve found it to be extremely temperamental. Neither one is in a perfect state, but Remix OS is a little more fleshed out. Remix requires at least 2GB of RAM and a 2GHz dual-core processor, but practically you’ll need more than that for good performance. The UI is not stock Android — it’s based on the x86 project code, but has been modified for a more desktop-like experience. That might actually be preferable, though. You could install either over top of Windows, but that’s not the best idea. The smarter way would be to create a separate hard drive partition and install Android there. The Remix installer will help you do that. If you don’t want to install Android on your PC, you can try running one of these operating systems in VirtualBox, which should be a little faster than the official Android emulator. It probably still won’t be good enough for games, but most apps should install and run correctly (BlueStacks is faster at this). There’s no Google Play integration when you install Android ports, but sideloading Play Services is fairly simple with Remix. So what’s the best way? If you need to test something with the intention of putting it on other Android devices, the emulator is still the best way. This is best suited to developers as the configuration and management of apps is complicated. It’s slow, but you’ll be able to see how things will work on the real deal. The Android PC ports are definitely fun to play with, and performance is solid when you get apps running, but they can be finicky. If you’re interested in getting more than a handful of apps running on your PC so you can actually use and enjoy them, BlueStacks App Player is the best solution. It’s fast, has Play Store access, and works on multitouch Windows devices. I think it’s still the best of the “app players” for Windows. If you actually want to use Android apps long-term on your PC, you might want to consider installing Remix OS. It’ll take time to get it working, but it’s a full Android-based OS for your PC.
        • From time to time you’ll hear about yet another effort to bring Android to the desktop. Yes, there’s an official effort to do this straight from Google by bringing the Play Store to a select number of Chromebooks. But what if you want this now, or don’t want to buy a new computer to experience what it’d be like to use Android apps on your PC? With a little bit of digital elbow grease, it’s possible. You can run some of your favorite apps and engage in Android gaming by trying out one of the many third-party solutions. I looked at several software choices that offer this, and came away with four solid options that will have you up and running with Android on your Windows PC rather painlessly. The best: Remix OS Remix OS is my top choice because it’s clearly the had considerable development work. It’s a full-blown desktop OS that’s based on Android. Everything you need to be productive or entertained is there, with the Google Play Store available and of course the ability to use Google Drive, Gmail, Chrome, or any non-Google apps for productivity. The developers have built a slide-out notification menu and repurposed the software buttons without significantly changing the way that Android works. I played Clash of Clans, solitaire, and fooled around in Chrome while trying Remix OS out. It was quite stable and was the first time I felt that Android had actual capabilities to move beyond the smartphone or tablet. Remix OS is a clever implementation of Android on the desktop.   It also may sound like a small matter, but being able to tap into apps like Snapchat that are currently mobile-only is an appealing part of the experience. It speaks to how blending the mobile and desktop worlds can mean less time shifting between devices (with more potential distractions, of course). However, it’s the most complicated of these software packages to set up. You need to disable Secure Boot and then choose Remix from the boot menu in Windows—basically, you’re dual-booting. If you know your way around a PC well enough you’ll be fine, but if this concept sounds foreign you’ll need to be willing to leap through several hoops to learn what to do.  A slide-out bar lets you keep tabs on any notifications.   Remix is very stable and runs Android Marshmallow, although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend using it as your primary PC unless your computing needs are pretty minimal. And unfortunately touch support didn’t work on my Surface Pro 4, unlike some of the other alternatives that I tried here. However, I suspect that touch would work with one of the many supported devices. However, I came away impressed at what Jide, the company behind it, has built here. It’s especially a great option if you want to do some Android gaming, as it handled numerous titles very well. Bluestacks Available for both Mac and Windows, Bluestacks has a clear focus on gaming with several titles waiting for you to download once you fire it up. You go through the typical Android setup process, Lollipop style. The interface makes clever use of tabs so that you can keep multiple apps running at once. Bluestacks offers a great way to lay mobile games right on your PC.   There are several dedicated buttons along the side that emulate features you’d normally do with a gesture or tap on a mobile device. You’ll find dedicated buttons for  uploading an APK, taking a picture, grabbing screenshots, and shaking the device (handy for those games or apps where this performs some type of action). There is a large list of suggested games, while I was also able to grab titles like Clash of Clans from the Play Store and get going without a problem. Installing other Android apps was handy, as it put favorites like Google Keep just a click away on the desktop. Snapchat didn’t work for me, however, giving me an error when I tried to sign in. I found this to be the case with other apps as well, so your mileage may vary. Bluestacks has a heavy emphasis on mobile game streaming. Another component of the platform is BlueStacks TV, which allows you to stream some of your gaming action or view other live streams that are powered by Twitch. While I’m not a huge fan of the video game streaming phenomenon, this is as good a way as any to do it if you want to watch some mobile games in action. In all the capabilities are pretty impressive, but I did find the performance to be slow and buggy at times. Amiduos The Lollipop-powered Amiduos puts a stock version of Android on your PC, sans the Google Play Store. It comes preinstalled with Amazon Appstore and has all the sideloading capabilities of Android so you can install an APK of the Play Store if you want to get more Google-powered apps on your PC. But I used this as an opportunity to check out the whole Amazon Undergroundscene. You get a ton of paid apps for free, although you have to download and update them through Amazon’s store instead of Google’s. Recognize that multitasking menu? That’s because it’s Android right on your computer. Amiduos also gives you have a more traditional Android experience. I also found it to be the most responsive version of Android to work with the touch screen on my Surface. It’s still not as hyper responsive as something like a Pixel C or an iPad, but it was neat that this experience could be hacked together. Slide down from the top for the notification center, just like on a typical Android phone. Otherwise, you’ll need to rely on mouse clicks and drags to work through the interface, which is pretty close to a stock build of Lollipop. It was a pretty solid setup on my Surface Pro 4, though it did use enough processor power to keep the fan running whenever it was on (I have 8GB of RAM and an i5 processor). In all operation was smooth, however, and didn’t require a huge learning curve. Andy Andy has its merits, but I took issue with some elements of the experience. The platform is loaded with ads and tries to install a Chrome extension that changes your default search page in Chrome. This happened even though I clicked the box to decline this feature. Not cool. Developers need to make money and all, but installing bloatware isn’t the way to do it. It does handle much of Android well, especially when playing Android games. The build is based on Marshmallow, and it was quite responsive to touches on my Surface. The stock build was easy to navigate, although you need to sideload the Play Store as this also instead comes preinstalled with the Amazon Appstore. Recognize that multitasking menu? That’s because it’s Android right on your computer. It’s a pretty good option for gaming and was rather easy to use. But keep an eye for all of those unwanted “extras” that are baked in.

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