A Android emulator allows you run android on linux, Windows or Mac . This allows you to access Android features and apps without having to purchase an Android device, which is great news for people who i don’t really want to buy a new android device just for test the application or any other product they develop.
Like any other software, an Android emulator can be easily downloaded and installed, then configured to start an emulator instance (which is something like a Chrome or Firefox browser tab).
In this article, we will briefly discuss the uses and advantages Android emulators, then detailing the 5 best Android emulators you can try.
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Advantages of Android emulators
Android emulators let you enjoy all Android without leaving a hole in your pocket. However, not all emulators are created equal; they vary in terms of functionality and specifications.
Let’s take a look at the benefits first to give you an idea of what to expect from an emulator.
1. Run stock Android on a PC, Mac or Linux
You can discover the stock version of Android from Google using Android emulators – whether it’s hacking developer options, quickly switching, playing your Flappy Bird game, or testing self-developed apps. This is a good platform to check out the original Android operating system in cases where your device manufacturer is one of those providing custom Android instead.
2. Select any version of Android, past or present
You can select any version of android (Classic lollipop, marshmallow or gingerbread). Since the emulator is just software running on your system, you are open to select and use any version of Android.
You are also never limited to using the factory version provided by the device manufacturer (as there is no physical device) have to wait for an OTA update for the latest version of Android to be made available by the manufacturer. Just choose the version you want once it’s available.
3. You can select any hardware specification
You can choose any material specification – like that of Google Nexus 5 or 6 (smartphones), Samsung Galaxy S5 or S6 (smartphones), Google Nexus 7 or 9 (tablets), etc. The only limitation is the power level of your desktop computer, for example, if it has 4 GB of RAM, you cannot allocate 3 GB for the emulator.
Standard requirements for running Android emulators are dual-core Intel or an AMD processor with virtualization support, 4 GB of RAM, and 10 GB of disk space, although less powerful ones can run older versions of Android. (there is something for everyone).
You can even choose a custom hardware specification using preferred values for CPU, RAM, storage and more. You can create separate emulators for different scenarios, for example, high-end games may require more RAM, and data retention will require more storage.
4. Brick is not a total loss
Because this is software running as virtual hardware on your system, any damage to the emulator, for example, brick, will not be a total loss (up to you), except maybe the data in the emulator’s memory.
All you need to do (in most situations) is delete all files from the device and create a new emulator from scratch. You too don’t worry about material damage such as those caused by the device falling or getting wet.
5. Use Android’s social apps when working on desktops
Perhaps the most interesting reason to install Android on your desktop is that you can use Android social apps (eg WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger) just like you would on your android device. You can chat, make voice or video calls with Skype, edit your next blog post, work on a spreadsheet, and code it all at the same time.
6. Play premium games
You can also play Android games on your PC or iMac. With Android emulators, you no longer need expensive smartphones to enjoy your favorite HD games because you can easily enjoy most of these games on your desktop without spending a single dime out of your pocket. These emulators offer good support for most apps and games, and a few even offer joystick or phone support for game control.
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7. Multi-task between PC / iMac and Android applications
You can multitask between PC / iMac and Android apps using an emulator on your desktop. You can simply run and switch between a few desktop apps while running mobile apps on your emulator. Some emulators even support a drag and drop feature that makes it easier to move text or data between your PC / Mac / Linux and the emulator.
5 best Android emulators
If you’re determined to get an Android emulator, here are the top 5 picks in the business.
BlueStacks, one of the first third-party Android emulators, supports camera and microphone integrations to make voice and video calls through VoIP applications like WhatsApp, Skype and others. Its features include drag and drop support between desktop and emulator for file sharing, synchronization between desktop emulator and a real Android device, locations, Android-on-TV capability and many more.
The emulator integrates well with PCs and iMacs to deliver the ultimate gaming experience with native graphics support and easy multitasking between different apps or games like a native Android. Compared to other emulators of this type, it offers more compatibility support for apps and games, and has a bigger Android interface than any phone or tablet.
Andy lets you easily sync your desktop (running Andy) and an Android device. It also gives you easy access to the office file system (yes, all photos and videos from the office party) and lets you forget about storage limitation notifications. Its other features include support for camera and microphone for audio and video calls and push notifications on the desktop about new messages or events.
Andy supports multi-touch on touch devices running Windows 8 and above. It also supports high-end graphics and Xbox / PS controllers, allowing you to play popular games at your leisure without any (real) Android device. To have fun at the next level, Andy even lets you use your phone as a remote control to play games on the big screen (from your computer) without sacrificing multi-touch or gyro elements (from your phone).
Genymotion (Free | $ 136 / year)
Genymotion is a premium offering aimed primarily at Android developers, but it is also suitable for users and gamers who intend to run Android apps or games on PCs or iMacs. The emulator supports webcam and microphone, like BlueStacks and Andy, to make audio or video calls using WhatsApp, Skype and other VoIP applications. Its paid version offers a reset button to know if or when you brick the emulator.
Genymotion is known for its fast start and high performance to run HD games. Offer latest versions of android fast is one of the best features of Genymotion besides providing fast performance and offering over 3K hardware configurations to run or test applications in multiple hardware scenarios.
Xamarin Android player (Release)
Xamarin Android Player includes a native user interface for workstations and allows you to run and test applications efficiently. With a primary focus on developers, Xamarin is actually easily usable by laymen who want to try out new Android features, run apps, or play high-end games. It uses features like network and hardware simulation, native Android experience and much more.
The emulator replicates a full Android and is basically the same as the Android emulator except for performance – Xamarin Android Player run faster as the default Google emulator. It offers a beautifully designed interface like that of Genymotion and good support for most apps and games from the Play Store.
Android emulator (Release)
Android emulator is the de facto Google emulator offer. It mimics Android with a set of software and hardware configurations. The emulator allows you to run and test applications using AVD (tech-savvy name for the emulator device). With this emulator, you can enjoy multimedia, use multiple services, customize emulator dashboard, access network, run applications and play games on your PC, Mac or Linux.
Coming directly from the Android team, this emulator offers new versions of Android faster than any other emulator on the market and even offers preview versions for enthusiasts keen to get hands-on experience with the latest trial features. Although this emulator is not as user-friendly as the others, it works well for running mobile apps on desktops, and it is also available for Linux.
Which emulator are you going to download? Have we forgotten your favorite Android emulator? Please let us know via the comments section below.
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