How to Run Android Apps on PC: The Right Way


Android is the most popular mobile operating system. With 1 Billion 30 day active users and almost 10 device activation per second, it is quite overwhelming to realize the traction and growth it is destined for. Even though there are over 1 Billion users for Android, sometimes a 5 inch screen is just not enough to enjoy the overflowing catalogue of media for mobile, be it a game or movie there still are people who prefer the real estate of a PC over the limited canvas provided by a tablet or phone.

Now for most users running an Android app/game would mean heading over to the Bluestacks website and downloading the application and running it on your PC, but Bluestacks isn’t good enough. The User interface that Bluestacks provides is clunky and old-school and just to set up the app to work “fine” is a pain. And even if one gets past the setup process, the experience is just terrible. I am speaking about the lag, what’s the point in playing the game when all you can experience is the frame drops?

In this article we will illustrate “How to run Android Apps on PC without using Bluestacks” using 3 different methods.

Genymotion

Genymotion is hands down the market leader when it comes to Android Emulators. While a lesser known app for the general consumers, Genymotion happens to be highly popular in the Android Developer community for its fast and snappy performance, at times one would forget that Genymotion is an emulator and not an actual device due its superior performance. In order to run a game or an app on Genymotion let’s first set it up.

Head over to the Genymotion website (www.Genymotion.com) and sign up for a free account and verify it. Once that is done, sign in to your account and visit the downloads page and download it.

Genymotion Homepage

NOTE: Genymotion requires Virtual Box in case you already have it you can download the version without Virtual Box.

Genymotion Windows

After downloading the software go through the standard installation procedure and once it finishes, launch Genymotion. You will need to sign in first. Once you have logged in, click on the ‘+’ button to add a new device.

Virtual Device Creation Wizard

You will be greeted with a list of devices. Choose the one you prefer (In this case I used a Nexus 9) and download it.

Virtual Device Creation Wizard Add Device Name

Retrieve Deploy New Virtual Device

Be patient while it downloads and deploys. Once it is deployed successfully, click on the play button to launch it.

Genymotion Starting Virtual Machine

Wait for the device to boot up, once your device is powered on, it’s time to install the game. Use Windows explorer to browse to your .apk file and then drag and drop it onto the Genymotion window.

Genymotion Interface

You will see a file transfer in progress prompt.

Genymotion File Transfer

Once that is done, it means your app was installed, use the app drawer to find it and launch it. And your game should start.

Angry Bird Genymotion

Genymotion is compatible with following platforms:

  • Windows: Windows Vista, Windows 7, 8, 8.1
  • Mac: Mac OS X 10.8 (64 bit) or newer
  • Linux: Ubuntu 12.04 (32/64 bit) or newer, or Debian 7 (64 bit) or newer

Google Chrome

During Google I/O 2014, Google announced that it was bringing Android Apps to Chrome OS in an attempt of unifying the two platforms. Chrome is another platform maintained by Google, yes you read it right it is indeed a platform. The world’s fastest browser has acquired a huge userbase which made the transition from a web browser to a platform inevitable. While most of us use Chrome to browse the web and unleash our productivity with its extensions, I’m sure only a few people know that you can run Android Apps using Google Chrome.

To do so you need the Arc Welder extension from the Chrome web store. Arc Weldor is a Google project and the technology behind it is worth appreciating. Before harnessing the power of Google Chrome to run Android Apps lets see what Arc welder actually does under the hood. An android app has a .apk extension while a chrome extension is a .crx file, what Arc welder does is, it repacks the android app in form of a chrome extension so that it can be loaded on to Chrome and used as a normal Chrome App.

First make sure you install Google Chrome. Once you have it up and running, fire up the web store and search for Arc Welder (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/Arc-welder/emfinbmielocnlhgmfkkmkngdoccbadn) and install it.

NOTE: The page says that the download size is 11MB but the actual download size is almost 150 MB, so be patient while it downloads.

ARC Welder Overview

Once it is downloaded and installed, launch it. Click on the choose button and choose a directory. This will serve as the directory where Arc will store your apps.

ARC Welder - Welcome Page

After doing so click on the big ‘+’ button to add your apk file.

ARC Welder - Test Your App

Wait till it loads up. Customize the orientation etc according to your needs.

ARC Welder Settings

And then click on Launch app. The game should start now.

Temple Run 2 for PC

NOTE: You can test/run only one app at a time using Arc Welder. In order to install another app you need to uninstall the previous app.

Andy OS

Andy OS is another android emulator which is similar to Blustacks in a lot of ways yet way too different in terms of performance. You can obtain a copy of Andy OS from (www.Andyroid.net) and install it.

Andy OS

Once it is installed, boot it up the configuration process is quite similar to configuring an actual Android device.

Andy OS - Welcome Screen

Once that is done you can download your game like you do on your android device using the Store. The interesting part here is that you can actually use your Android phone as a controller while playing games on your PC.

Andy OS - Android Apps on PC

Andy OS - Play Games on PC

Conclusion

While both the options mentioned above are less known to users and are way better than the performance and responsiveness of Bluestacks. But the fact still remains the same that the immersion and experience provided by a physical device will always be better than emulators.



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