Everyone loves the functionality Android offers, so why shouldn't you to try to bring those features you rely on from your smartphone to other devices like a PC. If you do want to use Android apps on your PC, you're in luck. There are now a number of ways you can do this, and we've looked at the best methods currently available.
AMIDuOS 2.0 brings you the complete Android 5.1 Lollipop, with an extra-to-install Play Store for your Windows PC – regardless of whether it’s Windows 7, 8, or 10. The first 30 days are free, but after that you can purchase a lifetime license for around $18.
AMI has “carefully tested thousands of Android apps” and provides ongoing updates to ensure that even newer Android apps can be used without any issues on your PC. 3D acceleration also makes Android games on PC faster, and you can even use your gamepad with AMIDuOS.
AMIDuOS emulates a complete Android tablet with home screen, settings, sensors and a touchscreen. Your Android apps can be displayed on the PC in a normal window or in full screen mode. The shared clipboard allows you to copy text on the PC and paste it into the Android emulator and vice versa. A common file system allows you to access the PC hard drive from the emulated Android device.
When we did a test on a Core i7 laptop with 8 GB RAM, we found that AMIDuOS was fast and reliable. The setup is simple and the installation of the Play Store on a Windows system also works very easily. You just need to right-click the Google Apps ZIP file and select Open in AMIDuOS from the shortcut menu. You can find the official instructions here.
Unfortunately, there are some downsides. The user interface has not been adapted for use on desktop computers with a mouse and keyboard. Instead, the interface looks like the default Android interface for tablets, so some changes to the interface would have been beneficial for the emulator. Remix OS (which we also review in this article) has resolved this issue, providing a much more elegant copy of the Windows 10 interface. AMIDuOS should probably consider addressing this problems in the same way with a preinstalled launcher. AMI spokesman Luke Lappala has already forwarded this proposal to the development department – but even after one year there is still no movement.
There was a further problem when playing full-screen media in AMIDuOS: the mouse cursor was never hidden and interfered with the full screen mode.
The video playback is no longer that user-friendly, since Netflix’s high-definition content has not been able to work with the laptop resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels. This has resulted in a clearly visible jaggies on the edges of the screen.The YouTube app was not able to play full HD streams on another laptop.
In AMIDuOS you can press and hold individual apps in the app selection and drag them over to the text Pin To Windows so you can pin them to the Windows 10 menu. This icon can also be attached to your Quick Start bar. As a result, you'll be able to go directly to the Android app you want to run in Windows - and for which you have actually installed the emulator for.
The bottom line is that AMIDuOS does exactly what it’s supposed to do. The emulator can be set up very quickly. It supports the Play Store, and the important Android apps can be run with it on Windows. You can even start it directly from Windows, which makes the transition between Windows and Android apps seamless – but the full launch of the emulator and the app will take a few seconds. The speed of AMIDuOS was outstanding in the test – apart from one crash – and it takes up very little battery, using less than 300 MB in RAM.
The BlueStacks Android emulator, which was once supported by AMD, has been around since the end of 2011 and its developers collected a lot of experience in using Android use on the PC. The basic systems are either Windows or Mac OS. BlueStacks describes itself as an “app player.”
The installation is carried out via the installation program. You then start BlueStacks and log in to your Google account. Incidentally, BlueStacks emulates Android using the old Android 4.4.2 KitKat. BlueStacks visually looks like a tablet and shows a home screen after the start, where the installed and recommended apps can be found.
A navigation bar is located at the top. There, just like in Windows, you can switch between apps and call up the home screen. To switch between home screens, you use the mouse to click on the button, and then drag the cursor to the right or left. The pure touchpad operation is, as a result of this, somewhat cumbersome.
Certainly, BlueStacks requires the hardware of a computer. When switching between apps and the home screen, the emulator likes to pause for thought. If you want to gamble with BlueStacks games, it’s worth it for you to have your own graphics chip as the integrated graphics solution is sometimes insufficient – at least it is on a MacBook, it even if these led to display errors.
BlueStacks finances itself either by sponsored apps, advertising or a premium membership option that costs $48.00 per year, which removes all advertising in the emulator.
There are a few blatant differences between the Windows and Mac versions. The Mac version has an older user interface, so there is no task bar at the top of the display. Games were not executable on a MacBook Air because the graphics chip primarily produced graphics errors.
Remix OS Player: the emulator for Windows
Remix OS Player is a separate version of Remix OS, which works under Windows as a kind of virtual machine. The user interface is identical to the stand-alone version, so you can find a UI optimized for laptops and desktops. The Android version used here is Android Marshmallow.
Apps you installed via the Google Play Store, as well as purchased apps, are also available here. The biggest difficulty with the Remix Player is the keyboard, as some special characters were placed that are not traditionally included in the QWERTY system. Passwords can only be entered successfully if the virtual keyboard is always shown. This may be acceptable for passwords, but it’s very impractical for writing longer texts.
In our review, the performance of the player is convincing: when idle, the Remix Player does not consume resources and apps, such as games, run at a decent speed.
The Remix OS Player also has a full-featured offshoot called the Remix OS. This is a fully bootable operating system that brings Android to the PC.
Remix OS for PC
Remix OS for PC is not an emulator that starts Android apps on Windows, but an alternative operating system. The team of developers at Jide is working on Remix OS for PC. That said, it's quite mature and can be installed next to Windows on a Notebook.
After you download Remix OS, the installation follows with an installer in the Windows environment. One reboot later, and Remix OS is ready to go. The Notebook we used for testing was easy to connect to the WiFi. Although the setup assistant crashed on the first attempt to activate the Google Play services, it worked out in the second attempt.
Remix itself is sold with the Remix Mini PC, a product with its own platform.
What’s special about Remix OS is its desktop-optimized interface, which is a bit reminiscent of the Chrome OS. It allows you to use multiple Android apps in windows as you would on a traditional desktop operating system. You can enlarge them and move them at will.
For a real desktop feeling when using Remix OS, developers have integrated a task bar and typical desktop and system apps like a file manager. New or old apps can be downloaded from the integrated Google Play Store.
The Remix OS performance in our review left nothing to be desired. Remix OS is based on Android Marshmallow. Remix OS runs apps without emulation, which leads to noticeable performance advantages compared to the emulator solutions. Even games ran smoothly on the Notebook with its own Nvidia graphics card.
Android on a PC: Conclusion
The emulator solutions presented in the review could not really convince us. BlueStacks delivered an acceptable performance, but puttered on the Mac. Additionally, it uses a very old Android version.The Remix OS Player showed some quirks, but the user interface is well-tailored to the conditions of the desktop. AMIDuOS is also not without its issues, but otherwise makes a favorable impression.
Again, Remix OS is not an emulator but a complete implementation of Android as a desktop operating system. The system is nimble and, in a qualitative sense, is currently the best option to run Android apps on a PC – the main catch being that it needs to be booted.
Ultimately, the question remains as to why an Android app would be required on the PC. Many services are also possible without the emulator detour on the PC – WhatsApp has software for the PC, and many apps have web services. The emulators are hardly suitable for gaming. Remix OS scores with good performance, but it is more likely to be a way to help bring new life to decrepit PCs and Notebooks.
Do you use Android on your PC desktop? Why did you choose to install it? Let us know in the comments below.