More than 85% of smartphones today are powered by Android, with the user-base running in several million. Due to the reasonably safe and user-friendly nature of the platform, it has spawned a huge avenue for apps related to gaming, online dating, business and task management, e-commerce, etc. However, touch-screen platforms may not always offer the convenience of using a keyboard and mouse. Thus, there are several gamers who would prefer playing Android-based games on a laptop. Also, app developers need a platform to test Android apps over a desktop.
With most of such devices being powered by Operating Systems such as Windows and macOS, Android emulators come to the rescue when it is necessary on such non-Android platforms. If you are confused about which is the Best Mac and PC Android Emulator in 2021, the following article would serve as a guide:
Best Android Emulators for Mac & PC in 2021
BlueStacks users swear by the emulator as the best PC Android emulator and there are several valid reasons for the same:
A great positive of BlueStacks is its easy-to-use interface. It offers multi-gesture support, and peripherals such as keyboard, mouse, track-pad (in case you are using it on a laptop) and camera seamlessly integrate with it facilitating easy user control. A novel feature is the compatibility with Android TV which is something fans of the smart TV platform would love. Moreover, it permits the operator to customize the UI with respect to display resolution and DPI, graphics mode, notifications display. One can also add desktop icons for installed apps for convenience.
What makes BlueStacks count amongst one of the best PC Android emulators is the ease of installation. One just needs to Download BlueStacks 4 software on your PC. Once downloaded, you need to install the tool on your Windows PC, and then launch the BlueStacks application. Setting up the tool is equally easy, and after following few self-explanatory steps, the Android emulator will be up and running. You can install apps from the App Centre just like you would on a normal Android smartphone. You may choose to go for the premium subscription (comes at $4 per month) to avoid ads.
BlueStacks is very light on your PC, which is one of the reasons why most users rank it as one of the best PC Android emulators. It requires a minimum of 2GB RAM, while in 2018, most users would have more than 6GB of RAM installed in their systems already. The PC on which it is to be used will need to have at least 4GB of disk space for storing Android apps and games and their data which again is requirement easy to tick off. Because of low system requirements, along with facilitating the use of mouse and keyboard, BlueStacks enables a faster functioning than any smartphone.
While BlueStacks recommends Intel HD 5200 or higher graphics card to enable playing games seamlessly, there is no question that playing Android games on BlueStacks would provide for a much better gaming experience. Playing the game on a PC provides the advantage of the graphics card, intermediary architectures such as DirectX, and the benefit of better interaction devices. Thus, one can play any game such as PUBG, Clash of Clans, or Ruler Survival without experiencing micro-stutters or FPS drops. In comparison to a Samsung Galaxy S9+, BlueStacks has demonstrated performance increases from 12.6% for Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds game to a maximum of 66.67% for Idle Heroes.
Genymotion is one of the most preferred Mac Android Emulators but it also supports other platforms such as Linux.
In contrast to BlueStacks which primarily caters to users, the Genymotion Android emulator is more targeted towards app developers. Compatible with Android SDK tools, Android Studio, and Eclipse, Genymotion is a complete developer suit that any app developer would be thrilled to work with. Genymotion supports the deployment of multiple apps and allows you to test your desired website performance on different browsers and also test your location permission required apps along with several features that are a must for facilitating Android app development.
Genymotion Desktop as a tool supports over 3000 Android configurations, making it the perfect tool to suit the purpose of every Android app developer. With such a high amount of configuration support, one can simulate and test the working of android apps for almost every virtual device. Moreover, the tool also supports the development of battery charge level responsive apps, apps that require the use of a camera (by facilitating the use of laptop camera), and also allows the use of GPS widget for development and testing of location-based apps. One can also set up call or SMS interruptions, and app display to fit the screen size of different devices.
Perhaps the defining and differentiating feature of Genymotion is the Genymotion Cloud, a cloud-based Android emulator running on SaaS or as virtual images on Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, or Alibaba Cloud as a PaaS. This allows you to scale up your infrastructure to support app developers to work as a team on multiple devices. Genymotion Cloud facilitates a no nested virtualization to enjoy top performance even without a dedicated GPU and is compatible with multiple testing frameworks such as Appium, Robotium, and Espresso. While the SaaS would cost $200/month and the PaaS would cost $0.5/hour per Virtual Device, the possibility of parallel testing is certainly something app developers would love to avail of even if it means shelling out the stated costs.
If you are a developer looking for the best Android emulator 2018, this is the perfect choice!
3. Android Studio
Ever since its beta release in 2013 as the successor to Eclipse IDE, the popularity of Android Studio among app developers has grown by leaps and bounds. Similar to Genymotion, the Android Studio emulator enables a developer to perform actions such as simulating incoming calls and SMSes, specifying device location, simulate varying network speeds, access the Play Store, etc.
What should excite app developers the most is that Android Studio supports simulation of even the new Android 9.0 (Pie), thus enabling them to develop apps compatible with the latest Android version. One reason Android Studio is popular is it is Google’s official emulator and also provides regular updates.
Using the emulator on Android Studio, users can install and run Android applications. This makes it possible for developers to easily test the applications on Android devices of different API levels. To install the emulator, go to SDK manager and click on Android emulator under SDK tools. To run an app on the emulator, open Android Studio and click on "Run". In the dialog box that will be opened, select the emulator definition to use then click "OK".
Perhaps the one advantage of Android Studio is its ease of use, and all one has to do to begin using it is to Update the tools using SDK Manager and follow the steps listed on the link. One of the drawbacks of using Android Studio is the comparatively high recommended configuration requirements of 8GB RAM and minimum of Core i3 processor.
Nox Player is the emulator of choice for many Android game enthusiasts. The Nox Player is considered to be one of the best interfaces offered by any Android emulator. Not only is it completely customizable like the interface of any Android device, but it also supports the use of keyboard and gamepad as interaction devices, and offers the ability to record scripts and play multiple instances.
Perhaps the USP of Nox Player is the neat and clean UI which makes using the tool very easy. While Nox recommends a slightly higher memory requirement of 4GB RAM and also suggests having a minimum of 1GB Graphics Card, it is perhaps for this reason that Nox Player is claimed to offer the best UX and gaming experience among all the emulators in the market.
While Nox App player is amongst the best minimalistic tools you would come across, it is considered to be one of the best Windows and Mac Android emulators. The cutting-edge game rendering engine makes efficient use of your system resources and provides a gameplay experience far superior to what any smartphone would offer. What’s more, the smooth-functioning tool will also enable you to run other apps in parallel, ensuring a complete smartphone experience over a laptop or desktop.
Nox App Player works properly with Windows versions 7, 8, 10 and also with macOS, and many Mac users tout it to be the best Mac Android emulator. The NoxPlayer6 can be downloaded for free from the Bignox site homepage
5. Android on VirtualBox
VirtualBox is not an emulator but is a best free virtual machine software that makes it easy for the operator to install other Operating Systems as Guest OS in the system. You need to download both, VirtualBox and also the Android OS which could be a bit time-consuming and cumbersome to set up together. However, once the combination is set up, you can use it just as you would any Android smartphone.
Once you install the VirtualBox software, you just need an Android ISO image file using which you can create the Android virtual machine. By selecting the type and version as Linux and following the prompts issued, you will be able to use Android on Mac. The VM works like any other app would on Mac.
Because of the comparatively complex installation as opposed to a normal Android Emulator and the lack of support for mobile graphics, using Android on VirtualBox does not deliver a performance as good as that of an emulator. One advantage that the use of a virtual machine has is one can allocate additional RAM to it depending on the requirement.
From the above you will be able to easily choose the best Android emulator for Mac and PC. Whether you are a developer, a gamer or just a person who wants to try out Android on Mac or Windows, you can use any of the emulators we have described above. These will allow you to run a virtual device controlled by Android on your Mac, PC. Using this you can play various games and use other apps just like you would on an Android phone or tablet.
Before using an emulator, ensure that your Mac, PC has enough RAM and CPU resources to support its functioning without affecting Mac’s performance. Emulators require a lot of resources. It may be wise to increase your storage and graphics (especially if you will be playing games) before installing an emulator on your Mac if the ones you currently have cannot support the new virtual device’s demands.