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ARChon isn’t a traditional emulator. You install it as a Google Chrome extension. It then gives Chrome the ability to run Android apps and games (albeit with limited support). It’s not an easy emulator to get running. You’ll have to install the thing to Chrome. From there, you have to obtain APKs and load them in. As an added rub, you may need to use a tool to change the APK in order to make it compatible. There are a lot more steps to make this work than most other Android emulators for PC. On the plus side, though, it works with any operating system that can run an instance of Chrome (Mac OS, Linux, Windows, etc). We linked to the official GitHub where you can find detailed instructions for its use. Android App
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. New Droid Apps
Most manufacturers try to entice people to use their apps and services. Some companies, like Sony, with fingers in a lot of pies, want you to commit to their ecosystem of content. As the biggest and most successful Android device manufacturer around, Samsung has been offering a range of its own services and content on all of its devices, and that includes apps. The old app was Samsung Apps, then it became S Suggest, and it was finally re-branded as Galaxy Apps in July 2014. There’s also a website that you can sign into, enabling you to browse apps and send them directly to your device.
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. Droid Apps
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. Android App
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.
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
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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
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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. New Droid Apps
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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. Droid App