Everyone has their own motivation to install programs designed for the Android operating system on their computer. Someone planning to get access to their favorite mobile applications on the big screen, others want convenient tools for managing popular multiplayer games. Using a computer, you can type text much faster in remarkable services that do not have a full-fledged client for a PC. It will also help developers test the operation of their programs and games. In each of these scenarios, four solutions will help, which this material will tell about – it contains the best Android emulators and not only for Windows, macOS and Linux.
BlueStacks – a Fast Android Emulator on a computer
BlueStacks developers claim that its fourth version is the fastest way to run Android applications on a computer. They focus on the usability of the program for mobile games. With it, you don’t need to bother how much the smartphone is charged, or turn on the Do Not Disturb mode to get rid of regularly pop-up notifications, incoming calls and other distracting factors. This is a new level for mobile entertainment, with which you can use a convenient physical keyboard and other thematic tools.
Since developers have sharpened the emulator of Android applications specifically for games, they paid special attention to the performance of BlueStacks. The fourth version of the system is eight times faster than the third. Moreover, the developers promise that it is six times faster than the Samsung Galaxy S9 +. BlueStacks imitates Android Nougat (7.1.2) – not the newest version of the Google mobile platform, but it most often copes with all the responsibilities assigned to it. This was made possible to a greater extent by updating the graphics engine, which better copes with all the necessary software.
BlueStacks works with tabs. The first one is designed by default for the “Application Center” with the recommended software for the emulator. The second, called “My Applications”, is the standard Android interface with a home screen with selected programs and games, a lower dock with software that is used most often, and also a menu for a full set of installed applications (standard and custom). Running programs and games open in the form of additional tabs, and with the help of them you can work with several applications at once.
BlueStacks has a “Camera”, which without any problems uses the computer’s built-in webcam. In the set of standard applications, there was also a place for “Calculator”, “File Manager”, “Settings”, the mapping program “Location”, the Chrome browser and the search bar for Search Apps software. The system interface also has three standard buttons to go to the home screen, return to the previous menu and call up the multitasking panel. The BlueStacks shell works quite confidently to use it on an ongoing basis. Simple third-party applications fly, simple games are also in order.
Nox App Player – a simple emulator for any software
Nox App Player is another Android emulator that can be used on both Windows and macOS. The developers of this solution also claim that it runs on Android 7, but the version of Android 5 is indicated in the operating system settings. In fairness, the item with the software build number is generally hidden in BlueStacks. However, it is difficult to say that this is critical for an emulator, which should simply run specific applications – no more, no less. By the way, the creators of Nox App Player are also positioning it as a productive gaming solution.
Nox App Player works with a mouse (trackpad) and keyboard, supports gamepads and can simultaneously launch multiple windows of the same program. This should be especially useful in mobile games that involve social interaction. Theoretically, it will turn out faster to pump your character or get some additional features in multiplayer batches. Nevertheless, this will definitely completely kill the whole plan of the game developer, who focused on its use on one specific gadget. For better or worse, you decide.
The developers of Nox App Player are oriented to advanced users, so they brought out a separate button for installing applications from APK files. BlueStacks also has this feature, but it is implemented through the “File Manager” – it is a little longer, but there are no other drawbacks to this method. As for the built-in software, there is the application “Files” and separately “ES Explorer”, “Browser”, “Contacts”, “Gallery”, “Downloads”, Google Play and not only. There is also a menu with software that Nox App Player developers recommend trying as part of their emulator.
Unlike BlueStacks, Nox App Player has no tabs for open applications – you have to use the standard Android multitasking menu. Nevertheless, if you compare this pair of emulators, then the speed of work is most frustrating here. This solution is significantly inferior to the competitor in smoothness and performance. On a not-so-fast computer, you won’t be comfortable playing even fairly simple games like Subway Surf. There are also enough bugs – for example, not all applications are displayed on the home screen after installation.
Genymotion – an advanced emulator with a choice of gadgets
Genymotion is a more sophisticated and advanced solution than BlueStacks and Nox App Player. During the first launch, it is immediately clear that it is tailored for developers who need a tool to test their software on different smartphones running the Android operating system. He offers to choose the necessary gadget to emulate from an impressive list of basic offers (lots of options – from Google Galaxy Nexus 4 to Samsung Galaxy S9 and many other devices of different years) or create your own. In the first case, the application downloads all the necessary files and launches the device screen.
The newer and fancy device you try to emulate, the more resources will be required for this. Unlike simple BlueStacks and Nox App Player emulators, this one is geared specifically for realistic use when testing your own applications. You can try it to run some kind of game or program that is designed for Android on your computer, but for this experience to be positive, you need a fairly productive machine. For ordinary users who just want to play on a large computer screen, this solution is unlikely to work.
By the way, to use Genymotion, you will need to create an account on the official website and authentication in the application. You can choose a paid option for professionals, but there is also a free one for enthusiasts. At the same time, the creators of the platform will definitely clarify why you needed this Android emulator. This does not affect anything, but you can simply choose what you want to play games. After registration, which will take several minutes, you can start using the application. This experience promises to be quite exciting.
Genymotion is suitable for experienced users who want to delve into the settings, try out several options for Android devices and spend a lot of time changing their settings. To simply run a game or program on a large computer screen, this solution, if appropriate, is just a stretch. If you use an ultrabook or something with a similar filling, it is better to simply forget about Genymotion. For comfortable use, this emulator needs a productive system with a powerful processor and a large amount of RAM.
Android-x86 – full-fledged Android for the computer
On emulators alone, the issue of launching Android applications on a computer does not end there. You can also install a full-fledged operating system, sharpened for the x86 architecture – it is called Android-x86. This is an option for even more confused users who want to turn their PC into a full-fledged gadget based on the Android operating system. It can be installed both as a primary and as an additional one. However, it is much easier to use Android-x86 on top of your operating system using the VirtualBox emulator.
Through VirtualBox, you need to create a new device with more or less normal characteristics (at least 2-3 GB of RAM, at least 4 GB of constant memory) and select the Android-x86 operating system image to run as an optical disk. After that, you need to wait for the download and select the type of use – it is possible to run it without installation or to fully install it on a virtual machine that you previously managed to create. The first option is only for familiarization, but the second one can already be used on a more or less regular basis.
At the first start, Android-x86 will offer to configure itself as a new device. He will connect to active Wi-Fi on the computer without any problems, ask you to enter your Google account information, request protection with a password or other means of authentication, offer to transfer information from the old device. After that, you will find yourself on the home screen of the operating system. From here, you can use both the built-in software suite and third-party programs and games that can be installed from Google Play or other sources additionally.
On the same hardware, Android x86 runs slower than BlueStacks and Nox App Player, but faster than modern devices in the Genymotion emulator. However, this option has one significant drawback – many applications are not installed on this version of the operating system, while others do not start after installation. For example, the official client of the Telegram messenger from Google Play on Android-x86 is set to refuse, and I still could not open Subway Surf to try to escape from the railway guard a couple of times. However, the game Cut the Rope started up without any problems.
To summarize: How Comfortable is all this in life
When I was just starting to look for a way to launch applications written for Android on my computer, I was sure that I could replace my smartphone based on this operating system with one of them. I’m frankly tired of wearing it in pair with the iPhone, but I still periodically need to test the software for this mobile platform. However, nothing worked out for me. None of the emulators that fell into this collection work quite quickly and smoothly – they are limited in the list of supported software, and some of them simply refuse to run.
I tested emulators on the base processor and RAM model of the 2019 MacBook Air. This laptop can hardly be called productive, so my negative emotions from working with Android emulators can be connected with this. I was most recommended by Nox App Player, but the most positive emotions I had from using the BlueStacks application. Genymotion and Android-x86 seemed to me too confused – they work much slower than simpler emulators. In the latter case, this is more due to the fact that the solution is launched through a virtual machine, rather than a separate system.