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How to run Android apps on your PC

Update: Nougat update (yes, Nougat)
How to run Android apps on your PC

If you want to use Android apps or games on your Windows PC, you have several options. We have compared for you the methods to use Android on your PC. In the update we show new emulators like Bluestacks 4 or MEmu, which inherit Andy or Nox and at least use Android 7.1.1. As a bonus we also show Phoenix, which wants to inherit the full x86 operating system Remix OS - but can't.

You're about to enter a world of pain

First the obvious question arises: Why would you want to run Android apps or games on your PC? After all, the list of potential complications is unmanageable:

1. Android apps are touch optimized and may use motion sensors. Your PC probably doesn't have either of these input methods and if it does have a touchscreen, it won't work as well in the emulator - if at all - as it does on a smartphone.

via GIPHY

Emulators can map such inputs to your keyboard or ideally to a gamepad and thus simulate them. However, the user experience and the associated gaming fun or at least the ease of use are usually much worse.

2. Also, the performance is significantly worse than on a smartphone; unless of course, your smartphone is a starter model from 2015 and your computer is newer, has an Intel i5 or better and a dedicated graphics card. After all, new emulators rely on Android 7.1.1 Nougat and are therefore able to handle faster OpenGL versions. In the test, however, there was still a lack of Vulkan support, which would be promised improvement.

tomb raider print
It's a shame to map the touch operation of mobile games to keys / © ANDROIDPIT

3. The software in emulators is unfinished. A lot of things are broken in emulators. Not only the above-mentioned mappings for translating touch and motion inputs often seem to be unreliable. Also the software interface itself is often overloaded with advertisements, is updated little or not at all and simply stops sometime in some examples of the story, because the developers simply give up the product.

MEmu Play promotes itself

The new kid on the block is MEmu Play. It inherits the orphaned NOX App Player that stopped with version Android 4.4. MEmu uses the same interface, so it has several settings on the right side, emulates and maps touch and motion inputs to keyboard, mouse or gamepad.

memu de jan 2019
MEmu is financed by In-Emu advertising. / © AndroidPIT

It pre-installs the Play Store right away. APKs can also be sideloaded, i.e. games can be installed from outside the Play Store. Notifications are looped through to the Windows 10 notification system.

During the first installation after the download, be careful not to accept the optional installation of the browser and anti-malware software by clicking Decline so as to install MEmu without bloatware.

OpenGL ES is only supported up to version ES 3.0. More modern titles based on ES 3.1 or even Vulkan are not included.

BlueStacks brings Android games to the PC

The latter also applies to BlueStacks: OpenGL Es 3.0 is the end. However, BlueStacks is the most durable of all independent Android emulators. The App Player integrates into your Windows system in such a way that games can be started directly via a desktop shortcut. The detour via the fiddly Android surface is therefore a thing of the past.

bluesacks 4 de jan 2019
BlueStacks has lasted the longest. / © AndroidPIT

BlueStacks exists since the end of 2011 and the developers could gain a lot of experience in the field of Android on the PC during this time. You can make mobile games like Star Trek Fleet Command executable on your PC.

Remix OS is dead, long live Phoenix OS

The independently executable operating system Remix OS was inherited by Phoenix. Unfortunately, the successor still inherits the same sufferings: Not all machines boot into the system, and if they do, they are plagued by a lack of hardware support. The experiment is interesting, but as a PC operating system Android (7.1 in this case) will not work in 2019 either.

Like Remix, Phoenix is based on the open source Android x86 project. This has made the image based on Android 8.1 Oreo available for download in January 2019. This even promises real, albeit experimental, Vulkan support - at least for AMD graphics chips.

The emulator cemetery is filling up

AMIDuOS was a well-known Android emulator. After a few months of inactivity, the overdue decision was made to pull the plug. The project was not brought up to date for a long time and could not keep up with BlueStacks or AnDy in terms of performance.

amiduos eol 1140x550
AMIDuOS also pulled the plug / © AndroidPIT

AnDy made it to Android Nougat. The free Android emulator offered nearly the same features as BlueStacks. Since 2016, however, at least product marketing has been at a standstill, even though the software still receives occasional updates. So the project seems orphaned.

Professionals emulate Android differently anyway ...

There are also other niche solutions such as AnBox, Shashlik or ARChon. However, they are complex to install and serve a completely different purpose than the consumer-friendly Android emulator BlueStacks.

And professionals prefer the Android Studio Emulator anyway. Although it is the only one that offers the current Android version, it has zero ease of use or performance optimization.

Android on the PC: the conclusion

Especially on Windows computers, BlueStacks is rightly still considered by many as a synonym for Android emulators. The app player delivers the ideal compromise of ease of use, performance and reliability.

Have you tried emulating Android apps on the PC? What are they, which emulator do you use and what are your experiences? Share your experience with us in the comments.


After the death of several previously presented projects, we had to completely renew the content of the article.

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23 comments

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  • dakss 4 months ago Link to comment

    erorr


  • shella Sep 14, 2018 Link to comment

    awesome article. do i really need to have a video card for this emulators to work? but all in all this is a great way to help readers like me and thanks for the info


  • I have used Bluestacks up till 2 days ago, on my i5-3550 16GB ram, GTX 1060. The program ran fine, the games I tried, including The Family Guy Search for Stuff, ran WORSE than it did on my 3 year old Tab S.

    Will have a look at Bliss and run it through a VM.


  • Sorin Jan 6, 2018 Link to comment

    I used Nox and worked perfectly even with 4 emulators simultaneously. Droid4X disappointed me because it was slow, and BlueStacks is a great resource gourmand. Nox is worth a detailed presentation!


    • This is the greatest bullsh*t I ever read, I used Nox also, but nothing than the most f*ckedup problems with Nox... I only see the message unfortunately Google playstore stop running... I couldn't play games anymore...


  • Nice post. Thanks.


  • Hey, PIERRE VITRÉ
    Just loved your article. The article was full of details and also very informative. Thanks for sharing such information.

    Thanks.


  • Can you tell me which of these apps uses the least amount of RAM? I have tried BlueStacks and it used 1.5GB, and the Nox App Player used almost 2.5GB. I need a light-weight Android emulator to only use WhatsApp on Windows 10x64. Please, let me know if there are better variants in terms of RAM.


    • You don't need Android to only use WhatsApp on PC. Try "meetfranz.com/" this may help You!


    • whatsapp web is free and works great, just scan the qr code from your phone and you're good to go


      • there is no Internet on my smartphone, so I can only use PC applications. nad, yes, I want to use WhatsApp. And yes, my silly friend uses WhatsApp and I have to find the way to use it on my PC. And, yes, I need a low-RAM soft, because my SSD size is small, and both Android emulators I have used consume too much space.
        At this moment, I simply deleted the emulator because it takes too much space on my SSD.
        PS I do not have WI-Fi, and Internet on my smartphoe, so I need an Android emulator on my PC to use WhatsApp. Android emulators need too much RAM, so I am searching for an Android Emulator which can run WhatsApp and use little RAM.


  • Akeem Sep 16, 2017 Link to comment

    remix os only supports intel processors, so a no go for me. i will look into phoenix os


  • my laptop is too slow, so how can i fix that situation?


    • It really depends of your laptop specs- does it support virtualization? For example, I had to turn it on on the BIOS (UEFI) because for some reason it was disabled. Afret that, Android emulators runs smoothly!


  • Shadow May 12, 2017 Link to comment

    I prefer a dual boot with Phoenix OS. It's a bit like Remix OS only so much faster and better. It's a full PC experience, pretty close to Windows 10. It's rooted and can also sideload apps.

    Yes, remix OS does much of the same but Phoenix OS is faster, more intuitive and notifications are better. Also, you can choose what apps to run in the background.

    I'm in love!


  • There was LeapDroid, but they were swallowed whole by Google some time ago. Other than that, there's Remix Os, there are none better.


  • Remix OS player stimulate Android 6.0

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