Android is the most widely used operating system in the world. And therefore, it is normal that most developers bet on this operating system when developing applications and all kinds of games. Google’s operating system is only officially available for smartphones and tablets, and although it is possible to install Android on a computer thanks to projects like Android-x86, it is not the best option. If we want to use Android apps on our computer, it is best to opt for an emulator.
An Android emulator is a program that allows us to virtualize this operating system on top of Windows. In this way we can download and install any mobile app or game on our computer and use them as if we were using them on a smartphone.
Although we can install WhatsApp on Windows, the desktop version of this messaging client has nothing to do with the mobile one. The same goes for other programs like Instagram and many other apps and games that are only available for Android.
Thanks to an Android emulator we will be able to load the Google operating system on top of Windows 10 and download and use all these applications from our PC, using the keyboard and mouse to control them.
Key factors in the performance of an Android emulator
A virtualized Android will never work the same as on a smartphone. Virtualizing an operating system implies accepting some hardware limitations that can make Android slow, and even that some apps may not work or some games have performance or graphics failures. These aspects must be taken into account from the first moment.
To have the best experience when virtualizing Android we need a powerful computer, with a medium or high-end processor and, above all, a lot of RAM. And if we also have an SSD instead of a normal hard drive, the performance will improve much more. If we have a mid-range or low-end computer, although we can run these Android emulators, they will not finish going quite well.
Luckily, most of the emulators that we are going to see next are very well optimized. The compatibility with apps and games is very good, and they also have 3D acceleration, so games should not perform badly.
The best Android emulators for PC
Android Studio, the official Google IDE with emulator
Android Studio is the official programming IDE recommended by Google to create new apps for your operating system. In addition to a countless number of functions, options and tools, Google offers together with this suite of programs one of the most complete virtual machines on Android. This is fully customizable, we can choose the version of the system that we want to load and it offers a more or less acceptable performance. Android Studio is very useful for debugging the apps we create with this program, but it can also be used to download and install apps from the Play Store. Of course, the performance and 3D acceleration are not exactly the best.
We can download Android Studio for free from the following link .
Disadvantages of Android Studio
The main one of this application is that it requires somewhat high minimum requirements, being necessary to have a good PC for it to work properly. Consequently it also uses a lot of battery.
GameLoop, the easiest way to play Android games on PC
We have already talked about this Android emulator before, when we explain how to play Call of Duty Mobile from the computer. GameLoop, formerly known as Tencent Gaming Buddy, is specially designed to allow us to download and install the most popular Android games on our computer. This emulator has excellent optimization, since it is mainly focused on emulating mobile games on our computer. It is compatible with Google Play Services and allows us to play with keyboard and mouse without problems.
Disadvantages of GameLoop
This application counts as a drawback that it does not provide support for other types of applications, as well as it does not offer any other service apart from running games.
NoxPlayer, a robust and stable Android emulator
This is one of the purest, simplest, most robust and stable emulators that we can find. NoxPlayer is characterized above all by being one of the best free options to use Android in Windows 10. This emulator has periodic updates, does not have unexpected closures or crashes, is compatible with controls, allows mapping the keyboard and, above all, is compatible with all available Android apps. It is not an emulator optimized to play (although the games also work without problems), it is an emulator to use apps.
We can download NoxPlayer for free from the following link . It also has a version for macOS.
Disadvantages of NoxPlayer
This application requires a powerful computer to work perfectly, so depending on our configuration, settings and specifications of our PC, we may experience some delays during its execution.
BlueStacks, one of the oldest Android emulators
BlueStacks has been with us for many years. This has been one of the best emulators to install WhatsApp on Windows (even before WhatsApp Web existed), and it is one of the longest running. The main characteristics of this program is that it is one of the easiest to install and use, it has a very simple and comfortable interface to use. In addition to a complete Android interface, we can use its own App Center to download and install apps.
We can download BlueStacks for free from the following link .
Drawbacks of BlueStacks
The biggest drawback of BlueStaks is that to control the applications we will need a mouse in case our computer does not have a touch screen, so the experience is not the same, especially in games.
MEmu, an Android emulator to install APK easily
Yet another alternative that allows us to emulate Android on our computer. MEmu is characterized by having a large number of options and configurations, as well as by allowing us to install the APK applications directly from Windows in a very simple way. This emulator is one of the most robust, showing users excellent behavior even when we have a large number of apps installed.
This emulator allows us to configure different instances with different CPU and RAM configurations, perfect for checking how each APK behaves in different environments.
We can download MEmu from the following link .
Disadvantages of MEmu
It requires powerful computer hardware as we will have two operating systems running at the same time.
Andy, for those looking for a complicated Android emulator
Andy is not just another emulator. This Android emulator is designed to meet the needs of all users. This free virtualization software brings us a complete Android interface with full compatibility with all kinds of apps and games. In addition, it has Google Play Services and the Play Store to download apps and games as on any smartphone.
One of the most curious features of this software is that it allows us to use our phone as a remote control to control the virtual machine. And in case it’s not available, it’s also compatible with Xbox and PlayStation controllers.
We can download Andy for free from the following link .
Its main drawback is that it has a reputation for installing malware to mine cryptocurrencies on our computer.
Phoenix OS, for those who do not want to virtualize
In addition to virtualizing Android, there are also alternatives that allow us to install it natively on our computer. And one of the best we can find is Phoenix OS .
We can install this Android-based system on any PC, and even load it in Live mode from a USB stick. Once the system starts, we can use the Google operating system without problems, access all its functions and download and install any app or game.
In the following link we show you how to download and install PhoenixOS on a PC.
Disadvantages of Phoenix OS
Its main drawback is that many applications in the Play Store are not compatible, especially in game applications. It also contains some errors and on some PCs it can cause overheating.
Genymotion, an excellent alternative for professional use
Finally, Genymotion is for the most advanced users the most complete option that we can find. This emulator for Android has a great virtualization capacity and allows us to make a large number of different configurations, both in resolutions and in hardware. Broadly speaking, it is very similar to the Android Studio emulator, very useful for developers but not so much for those who want to play on the PC.
In addition to having a desktop version, this platform offers us a virtualization system in the cloud that will allow us to virtualize Android from the browser.
Unfortunately, this emulator is paid. But if we want to buy the license (in subscription format) we can do it from the following link .
Emulator vs installing it on the PC, which is better?
Android emulators allow us to run the Google mobile operating system on top of the PC. However, is it the best to experience the experience of this operating system? There are emulators that are focused on usability and functions, such as Android Studio, so that developers can test their applications without using a mobile as such. And others that have additional modules and optimizers that will allow us to run games with 3D acceleration, the same, and even better, than on mobile phones.
However, there are projects that allow us to install this operating system on any PC and use it as if it were native to it. Android-x86, for example, is one of the most advanced. Leaving aside the virtualization layer brings many benefits in terms of performance and operation. However, Android is not a PC operating system . The purpose of this OS is quite another. Therefore, it is not recommended to use it as such.