You may or may not be aware that there is a new revolution in gaming that allows you to easily and seamlessly transition from your mobile gaming or app playing to a desktop gaming platform.
This is a transition that is a long time coming and will allow more flexibility and options for anyone who has a smartphone. Let’s be honest, that’s practically every person in the US. However, just because you have a smartphone doesn’t mean you want to look at it all the time: the screen is small, interface can get annoying after a while, and that’s all to say nothing of the dreaded “tech neck.”
Nonetheless, mobile platforms have become the largest platform for games. Of course, console and computer gaming still get the lion’s share of the attention, but in terms of number of units, the vast majority of games released and sold today are mobile games. This makes sense, after all; we’re not always home to take advantage of our consoles or gaming setups, but we do always have our phones with us. The handheld gaming craze that really came into its own under the guidance of Nintendo and their groundbreaking Game Boy systems has brought us to a point where we just expect to be able to play a game in those otherwise “lost” hours—time spent waiting in line, time stuck on a bus, and even (yes) time on the toilet. And now that everybody carries a small, advanced computer in their pocket, we no longer need to have a dedicated advice for our handheld gaming needs.
Nonetheless, most of us have much better machines at home, and it can be frustrating knowing that we’re forced to use our phones for a number of mobile-only apps when we have superior hardware at our fingertips.
This is where an emulator comes in handy. In this article, I will walk you through a list of the very best Android emulators that will enable you to use your PC to play apps that range from games like Clash of Clans, messaging apps such as Snapchat and Kik, along with practically any other app that you can think of that isn’t available on your computer.
There are options when it comes to emulators and they are not all made equally, that’s why we will focus on the best 5 and break down what the advantages and disadvantages of each. We will also provide tips to make each emulator work a bit better and for you to get the most out of your experience.
“A mind is a simulation that simulates itself.” – Erol Ozan
Best Android Emulators
Now, let’s get into the very best Android emulators around the web and break down the pros and cons of each one. This will help us to provide you the very best possible experience that we can. Remember to look through the various options and decide what features you want, whether you are ok with paying for the app or only want a free app, etc.
Andyroid is the top emulator on our list and probably the best overall emulator out there. For those of you who read Appamatix regularly (thank you), you’ve likely noticed that we tend to lean on Andyroid a lot for a number of our tips and workarounds. This should tell you something about the faith we have in it, and its incredible usability. It’s a relatively new emulator but has been built from the ground up by some of the very best developers. On top of that, it has very little bugs that we know of which is a big difference compared to the other emulators out there, we have seen a lot of bugs that will keep you from doing what you want. They will either not work with your graphics card or run slowly or periodically crash and you will have to either restart the app or restart the computer.
Pros: There are a bunch of different pros for Andyroid that makes it the top pick. It is the most consistent in terms of functionality. I haven’t ever had to restart my computer or the app while using Andyroid. However, there have been issues with all the other apps and emulators that we’ve seen.
Another pro is that Andyroid is completely free as of now and doesn’t have any ads so you can play without being distracted. Worse than distracting, the protocols that many developers shoehorn into their apps can create instabilities, which actually make the app less reliable. Now, I’m not faulting hardworking developers who want to get paid for their labor; I’m just pointing out a reality of the current app scene. That’s not a concern with Andyroid. Of course, there’s no guarantee that it will stay for free. It’s pretty new, and as the developers put more work into it and add more functions and features, it’s not entirely impossible that they may switch to a paid model. This is not to say that I’ve heard anything to this effect; I’m just raising the possibility. Of course, as Andyroid is clearly a labor of love, it’s just as likely (if not more) that it will stay free. That is something on which we will have to wait and see.
This emulator works with pretty much every computer out there and works on a bunch of different graphics cards so you won’t find issues with connecting to your graphics card if you want to play a graphics heavy game on your PC or Mac.
Cons: The primary con is that the software is relatively new and hasn’t been tested as much as some other apps out there. Also, it’s not quite as well funded as BlueStacks (below) is as they are a bit more established and have more of a investment backing.
Also, you will notice that there may be a lot of updates and things still to be worked out with Andyroid because they need to make sure they get out all of the glitches, etc.
BlueStacks is the next option and the second best one out there, it’s very well funded and has been around for a while, but there are some major flaws that I’ll discuss below. Overall it’s a good choice and should be one that you try out if Andyroid doesn’t work for you or you want something that is a little bit more supported by a team of developers.
Pros: There are some major pros of BlueStacks that have bumped it up to the second choice on our list of emulators. A huge pro is that it’s backed by some major investment companies so you can be sure that it has good funding and will continue to be tweaked and modified to a better version of the current one.
Another good feature of BlueStacks is that it works with a bunch of different apps and has been tested a lot by a lot of different users. There are hundreds of thousands of people that use the software and it has the largest following of all these apps so there are a lot of people to test it. However, as you will see in the cons, this doesn’t always mean good things for functionality of the software.
Another big pro is that it is completely free, however there are suggested and sponsored apps that come preloaded on Bluestacks. Therefore, you will have to put up with their advertising in the form of sponsored apps.
Cons: The biggest con is that it is extremely buggy from my experience and chatting with many other people. There are consistent glitches and bugs when you try to pair it with your graphics card. A lot of people get error messages that their graphics card is not compatible with the emulator even though it’s a new graphics card and works perfectly fine.
Another big problem is that pairing your Google Play account with BlueStacks can be difficult depending on whether you own an Android device, etc. There are a lot of people that have trouble with the 1 click sync that pairs BlueStacks with your Google Play account. Therefore, you can’t download apps and sync it with your normal Android account.
Manymo is a great option and will get you out of a bind when you’re in a scenario that you’re using someone else’s computer or at work. It’s a perfect option for many cases but may not be the best option for personal use on your personal computer if you use an Android emulator often.
Pros: Unlike the other two emulators above, Manymo is an online emulator which means you don’t need to download any software program to run the emulator. All you need to do is sign up and choose your emulator along with the desired screen size and options for resolution.
You may have to pay if you want to upgrade from the free version to the paid version for better service and options but you can keep using the free one if you want to. If you want to use an emulator at work where you’re limited on what software you can download, this is a great option. It also appears to run pretty smooth on a variety of different apps and will typically just work right out of the box.
Cons: The primary downside is that you need a copy of the app for you to upload to the online emulator. Therefore, you need to sign into Google Play and make sure you download the apk file which is the app file for whatever app you want to use. You can’t just sign into the emulator and have it bring back your set of apps or sync with your Google Play account like it would on the two emulators above.
Another downside is that the emulator costs money if you want to upgrade to the basic service, which is $9 per month for 100 emulator launches. This is a good option if you plan to use the online emulator often and want consistency in your emulator. Make sure you try it a few times before getting it to see if you actually like it or not.
YouWave is not a great option but is another emulator in case you want to try another one if you have trouble with the options above. It isn’t number 1 in any real category but is a solid option if the other emulators don’t work for some reason or another.
Pros: The primary pro is the it’s been around a while and has had a lot of testing so you would be pretty sure that it is stable and will work with your computer.
Cons: There are more cons than there are pros in this case. The biggest con is that it costs $20 to download and use, but you get a limited time free trial to see if you like it. Considering the other free options above I would suggest trying those first to make sure they don’t work until you pay money for an emulator.
YouWave doesn’t really have any features for functionality that the other emulators don’t have so it’s a bit silly to spend the money on it when there are just as good, if not better free options. If you find yourself frustrated with the other options, throw in $20 and see if this will solve your problems.
5. Official Android Emulator
Believe it or not, there is an official Android emulator that is built and meant primarily for people who are Android developers. This is another good option but make sure you note the cons because there is a pretty high learning curve to get this one to work.
Pros: You can bet that the official Android emulator, which is built and maintained by Google, is not going anywhere as it’s the primary platform for developers to test their new apps. It’s extremely well funded and built rock solid with no glitches and runs smoothly.
Cons: The only reason this isn’t at the top of the list is because it requires knowledge of coding for this emulator to work properly. Therefore, unless you have a good grasp of coding and know what you’re doing then it will be way too high of a learning curve and not an option for you.
That wraps up this guide on the very best Android emulators out there. Let us know what you think in the comments below and as always, please share this with your friends if you enjoyed it!