The Google Play Store gets frequent updates, which is great news. The not-so-great news is that it can take weeks, or for some people even longer, to get the latest iteration. The basic functionality never changes so being stuck on an older version isn’t all that bad. However, we understand the urge to get the latest and greatest version on your device. New Droid Apps
Bliss is something a little bit different. It works as an Android emulator for PC via virtual machine. However, it can also just flat run on your computer through a USB stick. This is definitely a power user option and not recommended for simple. As a VM install, the process is fairly simple, if tedious. The USB installation method is even more complicated, but it lets your computer actually run Android natively from boot. That makes Bliss a super unique emulator if you can make it through the steps to the end. Of course, it only really runs well if your system is compatible so be prepared with a backup of your current operating system. The system runs Android Oreo and that’s among the newer versions of Android offered on an emulator. This is a bit of a diamond in the rough, but again, we only recommend this one to the tech savvy. New Droid Apps
You’ll find a huge repository of free apps here for various platforms including Android. GetJar is fairly basic, but apps are divided into categories and sub-categories within the store to make it easier to find what you want. You’ll also find likes or dislikes and comments on each app from users. GetJar can also connect with Facebook. On the downside, you will encounter sponsored recommendations, but they are clearly marked.
The very specific focus of F-Droid is to offer free and open source software (FOSS) Android apps. It’s basic, but apps on the store are categorized, and the list is searchable. You’ll find a big selection of free apps here, all of which promise no tracking, no ads, and no dependencies. It’s worth checking out for free apps, especially if you support the open source movement.
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Here’s an interesting alternative app store that offers a large collection of curated apps. Mobogenie boasts an intelligent recommendation engine that’s supposed to analyze your preferences and make sensible suggestions. The interface is good, access is offered globally, and there’s no registration. Mobogenie also works as a file manager, and it allows you to download other content beyond apps such as wallpapers, ringtones, books, and YouTube videos. Android App
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GetJar’s clever draw is to offer premium apps to users for free to generate traffic, and then monetize that traffic with advertising dollars. App developers considering GetJar might be tempted by the virtual currency tie-ins, and the option to target new users with different kinds of promotions. Be warned, though, the submission process might take a while.
Nox is another Android emulator for PC for gamers. That includes the usual stuff like key-mapping with your keyboard, actual controller support, and even the ability to key-map gesture controls. For instance, you can assign the function to swipe right to an arrow key and use that in a game without actual hardware controller support. It’s a lot of fun and seems to work rather well most of the time. It’s also entirely free and in active development. The demo video below is rather old and it definitely ran better than that on my laptop.
Bluestacks is the most mainstream of all Android emulators. There are several reasons for that. For starters, it’s compatible with Windows and Mac. It was also one of the first that worked really well that still gets regular updates. The emulator targets mobile gamers. There is a stigma with Bluestacks because it can feel a little bloated at times. Bluestacks 4 (launched in 2018) aimed to fix that with mixed results. It also includes key-mapping and settings for many games installed. That should help make things much easier. It’s one of the heaviest emulators on the list. However, it also has the most features for better or for worse. Recent updates put Bluestacks at Android 7.1.2 (Nougat), one of the most recent of any emulator. The update to Bluestacks 4 also improved speed, even on older computers. Hit the button below to check out one of our favorite Bluestacks games and don’t worry, there’s a button to download Bluestacks at the bottom of that page as well. Android App
You won’t find in-app purchases here — These titles are more experimental than the typical games one would find on an app store. Many of itch.io’s games come out of game jams — community game development events where game makers create a small game in a short time frame, usually within a theme or concept (like “cyberpunk” or “wizard”). Ranging from free, to just a few dollars, and with everything from puzzle games, to adventure games, first-person shooters, hardcore RPGs, and even dating sims, itch.io’s Android store is great for gamers on the go. Android App
This is important because you don’t want to install an older version of Google Play by accident. You also want to make sure you download a version that is compatible with your phone. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem unless you’re rocking some ancient version of Android like 2.3 Gingerbread — if that’s the case, it’s probably time to replace your phone!
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