Android Studio is the default development console for Android. It comes with a bunch of tools to help developers make apps and games specifically for Android. As it turns out, there is also a built-in emulator that you can use to test out your app or game. The setup is rather complicated and it can take a long time. Thus, it’s not one we would recommend for consumer level use. However, developers can simply use this tool as their emulator for testing their apps. It also supports Kotlin in case developers want to try that out. It’s too much of a pain for regular people, but it’s excellent for developers. Droid App
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YouWave is one of the older Android emulators for PC. It’s been around for a long time. Its last update was in 2016, though. That makes it fairly current. The free version uses Ice Cream Sandwich. Forking out the $29.99 will get you the Lollipop version. We didn’t experience any major issues with either one. The installation process was easy enough. It doesn’t have any game specific features but it will still play games. That makes it good for light gaming and productivity. We haven’t seen a meaningful update in quite a long time, though, so even its Lollipop version is woefully out of date. We don’t recommend the premium version, but the free version works nicely for those who want an older emulator that runs older Android. New Droid Apps
KoPlayer is a newer Android emulator for PC (comparatively speaking). It has also managed to fly under most radars until recently. Its main focus is for gaming. You’ll be able to use key-mapping to emulate a controller with your keyboard. Players will also be able to record game play and upload it wherever they want. The install process is easy enough and it seems to work okay. It runs in a virtual machine like most other Android emulators for PC. It’s a middle of the road option and it’s also usable for productivity. There is the occasional but, but most emulators on the list have them. It’s not bad for a free option.
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!
The big risk is malware. In our Android app security basics article, we recommended sticking to Google Play and avoiding third-party app stores. The security policy on different Android app stores will vary; some will perform similar safety checks to Google, while others won’t. If you are going to take the risk, then consider installing one of the top Android security apps first. Android App
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. Droid Apps
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. Droid App
Droid4X is currently available, but it’s a tough one to recommend. It’s one of the classic Android emulators for PC and t features a simple design that should easily work for a lot of people. It markets itself towards gamers and boasts support for simpler, casual games. However, like most Android emulators, you can do productivity stuff if you want to. This one is not in active development anymore. Its last update was March 28th, 2016. Thus, we recommend you tread with caution as this could be a buggy and unstable product. Droid4x is also Mac compatible. We have the Windows version linked up, so Mac users will need to search a bit for it. Droid App
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. 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. Droid Apps