Why and how to run Android apps on PC? Well, the reasons for trying out Android applications on your PC are plenty. If you play a lot of mobile games, you might want to branch out and play your favorite Android games on a bigger screen. You could potentially even use your PC to video call your friends via WhatsApp, or simply chat with them on a bigger screen.
Now, there are plenty of ways you can go about running Android apps on your PC without an emulator? Well, first things first, running Android apps on PC is best and most easily done using an emulator.
If you want an in-depth look at how to use your PC to run Android apps, here is a detailed guide. We will help you understand all the different ways to do that and which is potentially the best for you. Also, we will discuss all potential scenarios wherein you are able to run Android apps on your PC, be it with an emulator, and multiple ways you can without an emulator as well.
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Run Android Apps on PC without using an Emulator
1. Run Android Apps on PC using Android-x86
The Android-x86 program is one of the most fully-featured ways to run Android applications on your computer. It is an open-source project that ports the Android OS to the x86 platform. This allows you to run Android on your PC without the need for an ARM-based phone or tablet.
The Android-x86 should not be considered an emulator, since it works more as a standalone operating system that is built to run Android on a different platform, namely the x86 architecture rather than the usual ARM-based one. Android-x86 allows you literally all the features of an Android based mobile device. This means you get to install and run any application you want to on a PC without having to install an emulator.
To run Android-x86, you have two options. The first option is to run it as a standalone operating system instead of using it over your present operating system.
To run Android-x86 on its own, simply,
- Download Android-x86 ISO disc image file and burn it to an USB drive with a third party application. Rufus is easy to understand and can be used to burn the ISO file onto an USB.
- Insert the USB flash drive into your system and reboot your computer.
- Enter the boot menu as your computer starts up. Usually pressing the F12 key during startup opens the boot menu.
- Once the boot is finished, you can either run it as a standalone operating system, or simply install it on your PC to run it whenever you want without the need for the bootable USB.
To run Android-x86 over your current operating system, simply,
- Download the Android-x86 ISO disc image file.
- Download and install VirtualBox. If you do not have experience with VirtualBox, it is a good idea to look at a video guide to help yourself.
- Use VirtualBox to run the Android-x86 ISO disc image file.
- Once it starts up, the basic layout of the Android home page will be displayed to you.
- From here, you can start installing any application you wish to use.
- It creates a virtual Android machine which you can easily use to run applications.
2. Run Android Apps on PC using Mirroring
Here is another way you can run Android applications on your PC. This method does not really require you to get fancy and install a variety of softwares. Instead it is a very easy method that allows you to simply mirror your phone onto your PC screen.
If you use Windows, the software that comes with it, called Your Phone, has the ability to mirror your phone screen to your PC. This way you do not have to install any other software and can simply get to using your phone in conjunction with your PC. If you somehow do not have the Your Phone app on your computer, there are many third party applications that allow you to mirror your phone screen as well.
Mirroring your phone screen to your PC is extremely easy and requires the least amount of work. However, if you plan to play games, you might not be able to without suffering from graphical blurriness and other handicaps. Also, since you are just sharing screens, you cannot transfer files from your computer to your phone, or vice versa. Your screen will simply act as an extended screen to your phone and nothing else. If you simply want to use your phone on a bigger screen and surf through applications and such, mirroring might be just the thing for you.
To mirror your phone screen to your PC, simply,
- Make sure you have Your Phone installed on your PC. If not, download and install a third-party application that allows you to mirror your phone.
- Open the software on your computer and link it to your phone.
- Once done, simply start the mirroring process.
- This allows you to easily view your phone onto your computer screen.
3. Run Android Apps on PC using Chrome Extension
Well, yes. This is another way you can run Android apps on your computer. You only need the right Chrome extension in order to do so. This is possibly the easiest way to run Android apps on your computer since it requires the least amount of work to be done. If you only want to run a few Android apps on your computer, this method is full proof and might be the thing you were looking for.
To run Android Apps on PC using Chrome Extension, simply,
- Open Chrome web browser and navigate to the Chrome web store.
- Search for the Android online emulator and install it to your browser using “Add to Chrome”.
- Allow the extension to add itself to Chrome.
- Once the download and addition is done, you can easily click on this extension anytime you want and run as many Android applications on your PC as you want.
- In our books this does not count as an emulator, since it uses your Chrome web browser and a simple extension that allows you to run Android applications.
4. Run Android Apps on PC using Phoenix OS
This is by far the most functional method to run Android apps on PC. The best thing is, you do not have to worry about extensive emulators and third-party applications or such. Simply installing Phoenix OS allows you to have a fully functional Android operating system that works much like a normal version of Windows, but only runs Android programs.
What is Phoenix OS?
Phoenix OS is an enhanced version of an Android operating system that is designed to run on a computer. It is based on Android 7 (Nougat) and is very well known to handle most of the games you might be playing on your Android system, any application you throw at it, and can even be a good enough way to test out Android features if you want to.
Phoenix OS is generally used by gamers who tend to play Android games but do not want to be restricted to a tiny screen. Also, since it is much more stable than any emulator or software out there, Phoenix OS can also be used to run and test Android applications.
How to use Phoenix OS to run Android Programs and Applications
You can use Phoenix OS in one of two ways. You can either install it on your hard drive. In which case, during boot your computer asks you if you wish to continue to Windows or switch to Phoenix OS. The other way is to install it onto a separate USB drive and use it to boot into Phoenix whenever you want to.
To begin your Phoenix OS installation, you would first need to decide if you want it permanently on your hard drive or would use a USB to boot into Phoenix whenever you wish to. In the case of the former, that is, if you want a permanent version of Phoenix installed on your computer, simply download the .exe file and install it using the instructions. If you want to port it to a USB drive and use it from there, you need to download an ISO disc image file and port it to a USB drive using a software like Rufus.
P.S. Phoenix OS only runs on the Intel x86 series and does not run on AMD processors.
To run Android apps on PC using Phoenix OS, simply,
- Download the Phoenix OS installer from the internet.
- Download the .exe file if you want a permanently installed Phoenix on your system, or download the ISO disc image file if you want to make a bootable USB for the Phoenix OS.
- Install the OS using the .exe file, or run the boot menu by pressing F12 during startup if you are using the bootable USB version.
- Select the amount of space you wish to allocate for the software and follow the rest of the instructions.
- Once installed, or run using the bootable USB, you can easily make use of the OS for installing and running a huge variety of Android applications, games and programs.
You might also need to disable secure boot to make sure your Phoenix OS works seamlessly with your Windows OS. This built-in feature that prevents Phoenix OS from running during startup needs to be disabled. Depending on your motherboard and the version of windows, you might have to follow specific instructions to disable secure boot.
Once you are in, and the OS is running smoothly, you might see a similarity between Windows and Phoenix. However, they might look the same, but Phoenix functions exactly like an Android device. A mouse can fulfil the need for a touch screen, but if your screen is already touch, you will have no issues navigating. You will find Google Play preloaded which can be used to download as many apps, games and programs you want from the store. Select the menu icon on the bottom-left corner of your screen to find all the installed applications.
Run Android Apps on PC using an Emulator
The most common method to run Android apps on your computer is by using an Android emulator.
What is an Emulator?
Emulators are programs that allow you to stimulate a device on another. They can be understood as environments that help you use a particular device’s ability on another. For example, during application development and testing, developers use emulators to run and diagnose applications on their computers without having to install them on a phone first.
There are plenty of Android emulators in the market that allow you varying limits of functionality. However, their basic function is to allow you to install and use Android apps on your PC.
Which Emulator to use?
There are two emulators that we suggest you use if you wish to use your PC to run Android applications. Both of them have their own advantages and functionalities you could use to your benefit.
1. Run Android Apps on PC using BlueStacks
One of the most common emulators to run Android applications on PC is BlueStacks. It is easily one of the best Android emulators out there and for a reason. It is heavily docked with multiple features that allow you a completely fulfilling experience of running Android games or applications on your PC. BlueStacks allows you to map your mouse and keyboard which can substitute for the touch screen. You can also adjust the resolution, FPS, and CPU/RAM allocation. BlueStacks is fairly resource intensive and requires a bit of processing power to run correctly. It uses Android 7.1 as its base OS, which can be upgraded according to your requirements.
It creates a virtual Android device for you which acts just as a mobile screen mirrored onto your PC. From there, you can simply start installing whatever applications you need.
To use BlueStacks, simply,
- Download and install BlueStacks on your computer
- The application takes up around 2GB of space + any additional applications you install.
- Once you open the application, a basic home screen will be displayed.
- From here, you can simply go to the Play Store and install whichever application you desire.
- Each application will have its corresponding shortcut icon on the home screen.
- Click on the application icon and start using it as you would on a mobile device.
2. Run Android Apps on PC using Genymotion
Another hyper-functional Android emulator for PC is Genymotion. If you want to explore the Android operating system to understand its features and abilities, Genymotion is the perfect emulator for you. It is a paid software which includes all its features and is mostly used by developers to test out applications. However, its free version is also available for personal use. The emulator uses VirtualBox to emulate an Android device, which means you need to have VirtualBox installed on your PC, or you need to install Genymotion bundled with VirtualBox. Either way, you must have VirtualBox installed on your PC to make use of Genymotion.
Genymotion is better to figure out Android as an OS instead of using it to emulate different Android applications.
To use Genymotion, simply,
- Download and install Genymotion along with VirtualBox.
- Start the software and select a device template from among the list it displays.
- Selecting the template starts its installation process which takes a few minutes.
- The template assigns which Android version you would be using, screen resolution, and the resources allotted.
- Once done, a generic home screen will be displayed to you. The template does not assign a UI to the emulator. The UI remains generic.
- From here, either install applications you want to use, or simply navigate through the OS and learn more about its features.
There are plenty of ways you can run Android programs, applications, and Android games on your PC. From easy methods like mirroring your screen, to fully-fledged operating systems designed to run Android as it would on a proper device, you have a lot of options to choose from. Each different method allows you something or the other while taking away some of Android’s functionality.
By far, the best and most wholesome way to run Android apps on PC is by using the Phoenix OS. It is a little more difficult to start up than using a simple emulator, however, it is the only way you can get the highest functionality out of a non-emulator based Android agreeable system.