Android is one of the most popular operating systems for small handheld devices (smartphones, tablets, smart watches etc) and other electronic gadgets such as streaming TV boxes, smart TVs etc.
Being developed by Google, Android is a stable and mature Operating System which can be easily extended and enhanced by downloading and installing apps (there are millions of Android apps available) to offer an enhanced user experience.
Did you know however that Android can also be installed on a regular PC computer?
There are some excellent Android OS flavors available if you want to bring the android culture in your PC as well.
In this article we have carefully screened out the best Android OS and emulator software for PCs so that you can run your favorite Android applications (games etc) smoothly on your Personal Computer.
Let’s see the list below (in no particular order):
BlueStacks is nothing but an Android emulator for your PC. It’s like having an Android phone but having it on your computer. Basically, you can download any Android application through BlueStacks on your PC or laptop.
BlueStacks is great to play Android games on PCs and is also one of the fastest mobile gaming platforms available with lower CPU and memory usage.
It helps you to get faster gameplay and better graphics, and at the same time saves your phone’s battery and storage space.
Currently, there are more than 370 million people using BlueStacks and 212 countries have access over it. It is also free which makes it an excellent choice for using Android OS on a PC computer.
There are 3 steps involved to start enjoying Android games and apps with Bluestacks:
- Download and install Bluestacks on your Windows computer.
- Download the game or app of your choice from the Google play store (within BlueStacks).
- Customize your controls or use the built-in controls and start playing.
Although there are many other alternative emulators online, Bluestack is considered one of the best and is certainly one of the most popular options.
PrimeOS is basically a desktop optimized version of Android for laptops and desktops. Their mission is to liberate the power of Android and empower everyone with its productivity.
This software is using Android x86 based OS for PCs to give a complete desktop experience similar to Windows or MacOS with access to millions of Android applications.
You can play any Android games with a keyboard and mouse to get full comfort. The software is designed to give you the best of both worlds (Android flexibility with million of apps and power of a PC or laptop computer).
With the key mapping functionality, you can assign keyboard keys to Android game controls.
What I like about PrimeOS is that you can install it on your computer in dual-boot mode together with your Windows OS. This means that you will create a separate disk partition for PrimeOS so that every time you power up your computer you will have the option of booting into either Windows or PrimeOS.
Chrome OS is for people who spend most of their time on the web. It’s a Desktop Operating System from Google that provides a fast, simple and more secure computing experience. You can download a copy of Chrome OS and install it on Chromebook computers.
To run Android apps on Chrome OS, you need to use the Google Play Store app on supported Chromebook models, sign in to Play Store and then under settings you need to enable “Install apps and games from Google Play on your Chromebook,”.
From there on, you can download and install Android apps on your Chromebook laptop device.
Bliss OS-x86 is an open source Android-based operating system for PC computers and tablets. Hardware wise, this Android OS flavor can be installed and run on any Windows/Linux PC, Chromebook, Macbook or Tablet released in the last 4 years (i.e 2016 and later).
The current version of Bliss uses the Android 9.0 Pie codebase and is designed to work with both the mobile systems as well as with desktop and laptops. The new Bliss OS 12 will be based on Android 10.
Their main focus of Bliss OS is to provide quality ROMs that can be installed on as many hardware platforms as possible. This can run on most of your devices, preserving customizations and options. The x86 variant is of course for Desktop PC computers that are equipped with x86/x86_64 compatible CPUs.
The User Interface can be configured as either Desktop UI or Tablet UI based on the launcher being used.
Phoenix OS supports both 32-bit and 64-bit computers and is one of the best options in this list (currently supported and maintained by the developers).
The current version development is based on Android 7.1 which is a fairly new and stable version. It comes in two versions, the default one which is for PCs and another version for ARM hardware processors.
You’ll need at least 2GB internal hard disk storage to install the Phoenix OS on your computer and the beauty of it is that when installed it does not affect the original document system.
Moreover, you can even install it on a USB which should be more than 6GB capacity and high-performance.
With this software, you’ll get to have the PC browsing experience along with the fun of the android operating system. It enables you to have multiple fully resizable windows open at a time. The Phoenix OS is an excellent choice for those who want to have a full-fledged android experience on their windows PC.
OpenThos is a relatively new Android operating system for PCs that lets you enjoy both Android and Linux applications side by side. The apps can be run on a windowed mode enabling you to multitask and manage several apps at a time.
It uses the Android Lollipop kernel and runs only on computers with 64-bit technology. You also don’t need to install any driver as it will detect your PC or laptop automatically. However, OpenThos doesn’t include Playstore so you need to get that from a third-party site.
Since this is a Chinese app, you will have some difficulty to download and install the OS. Also, there are not that many English instructions online.
Remix OS started out as a very promising Android OS for computers but the developers (jide) stopped maintaining it. However you can still download the software and check it out, although it uses the codebase of the old Android Marshmallow 6.0 version (based on Android-x86).
The taskbar of the system and right-click function is similar to Windows 10. Remix OS has a super easy installation process and you can utilize the system on an older PC as it’s easier to operate compared to Linux or Windows.
The hardware requirements are pretty low, with 2 GHz dual-core processor, 2 GB RAM and minimum 8 GB of hard disk space. It also works on both 32 and 64 bit systems.
This OS option has the goal of being a “complete solution for Android on common x86 platforms.” according to the developers. As they say on the official website, “You may think Android-x86 as an Android BSP (Board Support Package) of generic x86 platforms.”
There are tons of software that lets you use Android on PC but not all work the same. Android-x86 is one of the finest open-source systems for your x86 or x64 computer.
It provides a wide range of supports such as a multi-touch screen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, camera, and many more features.
The Android-x86 uses the Linux kernel 4.19.15 which enables it to support a wide variety of hardware. Overall, it is one of the most resourceful Android OS systems out there. Currently, the developers are working to support Android 10 as well (the current version is 9).
The original name of LineageOS was “Cyanogen” which was a very popular custom ROM used for flashing smartphones with an enhanced OS.
Lineage is of course based on the Android OS and is free and open-source. It offers customization for your personalization and preference as everyone is unique and your device should be too.
Although LineageOS is mostly installed on smartphones and tablets by users, it can also be installed and run on Windows or Linux PCs via Android-x86 (here is the link with the supported LineageOS).
Here is also a video showing how to install it on a PC and dual-boot with Windows 10 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGB_OV0yCUo
Because this software has a very big community, it is actively developed and supports even the latest Android versions.
Moreover, with its enhanced tools and exclusive APIs, it will turn any device into the perfect device for apps development.
Koplayer is an Android emulator that allows you to run any Android apps or games on your computer. It has several other features, but particularly designed for Android gamers and content creators.
One of the most popular features of this emulator is the video capture feature. You can record directly from the emulated device’s screen. So, you’ll be able to share the gameplay you recorded. Moreover, the emulator has its own marketplace for you to download the apps.
Genymotion is an Android emulator with pure simplicity and performance. All you have to do is three clicks and Genymotion is up and running. It integrates perfectly into your developer’s environment. Simply just pick from the list any mobile device that interests you. Then select the Android version to start testing.
There are various versions of Genymotion. The Desktop version is the one which can be installed on PC computers and thus emulate many Android versions, apps etc. It is free for personal use, therefore you can run Android on your Windows/Mac/Linux computer with no cost.
FydeOS is a fast and secure operating system that allows regular PCs to mimic Chromebooks with alternative supporting services, on-premise or in the cloud, with or without Google.
It has a minimalist design and an intuitive user interface. It boots up quickly, even with entry-grade hardware and comes with built-in virus protection and encryption.
The nice thing is that this OS allows you to download and install Android apps, essentially transforming your PC into an Android platform.
In order to install and run Android apps on FydeOS (and essentially run them on your PC), here are the summarized steps:
- First its important of knowing the generation of your computer’s CPU in order to download the correct FydeOS image.
- Then use Rufus to select and install the FydeOS image above on a USB key.
- The USB key with the FydeOS image is inserted into the PC, and the hot boot key is used to boot from the USB key.
- During the FydeOS installation, language, keyboard, regional settings, network connection, end user agreement, and privacy statement need to be configured.
- A FydeOS account needs to be created or signed in during the installation process.
- The Android subsystem is activated, and applications can be installed from the FydeOS store.
Windows Subsystem for Android is an Android emulation in Windows. The system ships directly from Microsoft and is just as integrated into the operating system as you might expect. However, there are some serious caveats to keep in mind.
One of the larger points is how the emulation is accomplished. Windows Subsystem for Android essentially emulates the Linux operating system as a Windows service.
It then runs Android on top of that emulated Linux environment. The end effect is a stack of emulated components each of which brings its own weight to the environment.
This makes the system requirements to run Android a little higher than you might expect. You can get away with just 8 GB RAM. But 16 GB RAM or higher is recommended.
Again, this is largely due to the fact that you’re essentially running multiple operating systems at the same time. And all of it needs to sit within your system’s RAM.
The second issue is the Windows Subsystem for Android app store. The vast majority of Android devices use Google’s Play Store for app installation and management. But Windows Subsystem for Android foregoes the Google Play Store and instead uses the Amazon Appstore.
This means that a lot of the apps you use on your Android phone or tablet won’t be available on Windows Subsystem for Android. There are some ways to get around the issue and install Google’s Play Store. But it’s a somewhat involved process that requires a lot of extra tinkering.
Despite those limitations, the Windows Subsystem for Android does offer solid performance. And as long as you don’t mind the lack of Google’s Play Store it’s fairly easy to get everything set up and ready to use.
MEmu aims for simplicity and ease of use. It also puts special emphasis on gaming. As you’d expect, this means that it needs to leverage hardware acceleration more efficiently than a lot of other Android emulation options.
Indeed, you can use either DirectX or OpenGL with MEmu for improved performance. MEmu also makes it easy to configure your keyboard or gamepad for any of the games or apps you want to use.
However, how you get to those apps in the first place is one of MEmu’s most notable features. MEmu ships with both the Google Play Store and its own special app store.
This combination means that you should be able to use almost any Android app on MEmu. And it even supports Google’s APIs and components. MEmu provides both impressive performance and a high level of app compatibility. While MEmu is useful for general Android emulation, it’s especially well-suited to gaming.
Waydroid is another Android emulation on computers, however, that comes with one important caveat – it only runs in Linux.
But if you’re on Linux you’ll find something truly amazing with Waydroid. It creates an environment somewhat similar to ChromeOS’s Android app support.
Waydroid lets you essentially use Android apps in Linux just like you would any native Linux program. This multi-window mode is perfect for multitasking. But you can also use full-screen Android apps such as games or media players.
Waydroid runs as a native x86-64 program by default. But it’s also capable of running Android apps that have only been compiled for ARM.
One of Waydroid’s few downsides is that it doesn’t ship with Google Play by default. You can install the Play Store on your own but it’s not a totally seamless process and will require a little tinkering. But despite a few quirks, Waydroid’s arguably one of the best options for Linux users.
Berry OS is another Linux-based Android emulator that is still in a fairly early stage of development when compared with the other options. As such its level of compatibility might lag a bit behind the other Android emulation systems. However, it also has some unique qualities.
One of the most important is its fully open-source nature. The full source code is available online and you’re free to read or modify it. Likewise, it’s intentionally kept open for user modification.
For example, Berry OS doesn’t ship with the Google Play store but it’s fairly easy to install if desired. At the same time, it’s one of the more complex options for Android emulation. But this brings with it some unique advantages.
The fact that Berry OS is being developed for Linux means that it can share resources between the underlying Linux system and the Linux kernel found within Android.
This is in contrast to something like Windows Subsystem for Android which first emulates Linux and then runs Android on top of it. While Berry OS is a complex solution, it’s also a fantastic choice for programmers who might be interested in adding their own code or modifications.
There are tons of Android OS systems and emulators out there. However, you need to choose the right one that will let you have a smooth user experience and a trustworthy interface.
Keep in mind that you might need to install and test different options from the list above until you find something that can work flawlessly on your specific computer hardware.