Android is the most widely used open-source mobile operating system in the World, with more than 1 billion activated Android devices around the globe — the need for experimentation, as much as security, is at an all-time high, and we can only expect these numbers to rise higher as Google itself prepares the rest of the World for better internet connectivity.
With more than 1.5+ million Google Play Store apps available, there is no question as to why would someone want to emulate some of these applications on their desktop computers (PC, Mac OS X, and Linux), which is why we have seen a reasonable influx of startups and technology communities that have taken it upon themselves to create Android emulators that do the job of porting a mobile application to your desktop computer.
Being a little bit of a Hearthstone geek that I am, it has recently become evident that there are possibilities to play around the restrictions of some promotional offers from companies such as Samsung and Amazon by setting up an Android Emulator. Needless to say, there are countless other uses for an emulator, so the following are the best Android emulators in the market right now.
Android does, of course, provide their own emulator — and while it is a good starting point for anyone to learn more about emulators, the community feels like there is serious lack of optimization for this particular emulator, almost as if it is being treated as a secondary (which it is) feature of the Android platform as a whole. The documentation for setting everything up is precisely documented and does give you a great way to get started.
AndY is probably one of the most popular Android emulators in the open-source community, since it’s completely free compared to some of the alternatives we will see further down the list. AndY works on all of your favorite computer platforms, comes integrated with native apps and integrations of features such as: camera, sensors, and microphone. It’s also heavily supported for developers, so it’s an overall great choice to get your Play Store apps emulated.
BlueStacks promotes itself by promoting that their emulator is able to support a large percentage of games and apps that you can find on the Play Store today, something that many other emulators are still trying to work out, but this comes at a price (literally) — whereas some other emulators might be free. It really depends on what kind of apps and/or games you want to run, and whether there isn’t a free solution available already. There are a lot of interesting features that BlueStacks offers, like TV compatibility and multi-touch support.
GenyMotion essentially is tricked out version of VirtualBox designed for running multiple versions Android rather than running the simulator in the Applet. This means full virtualization of the hardware and thus the simulator is exponentially faster. You can learn a little bit more on that in this blog post. We see Genymotion as an amazing solution for developers who’re into web dev, web design, and generally working with the Android devices to built for the web.
How about it? An online (in-browser) Android emulator, and it is free? Heck yes, we will take two! This is exactly what Manymo is, an in-browser emulator that you can start using right away (even from different resolutions), and we feel like it is a good starting point for anyone who wants to learn more on how these things actually work, but it’s also a great solution for on the go, as you never know when you might need access something that can only be accessed from a mobile device.
Xamarin Android Player has deep integration with Visual Studio and Xamarin Studio and a native user interface on both Mac & Windows. Running Android on an x86 virtual machine using hardware accelerated virtualization and OpenGL, Xamarin Android Player is significantly faster than the stock Android Emulator.
You shouldn’t get confused by the titling of this product, since there’s no need to install Visual Studio in order to use this Android Emulator by Microsoft. It works just fine on Windows 8 and Windows 10 alike, and is actually a very recent release. We’re still ironing out all the kinks, but looking for a more concise update in the near future.