Best Android emulators and Operating Systems for PC and Mac of 2018

By | November 25, 2018

Bliss is something a little bit different. It works as an Android emulator for PC via virtual machine. However, it can also just flat run on your computer through a USB stick. This is definitely a power user option and not recommended for the less tech savvy. As a VM install, the process is fairly simple, if tedious. The USB installation method is even more complicated, but it lets your computer actually run Android natively if your system is compatible. Of course, it only really runs well if your system is compatible and that is a bit of a crapshoot right now. The system runs Android Oreo which is a step up even from Bluestacks’ Nougat. This is a bit of a diamond in the rough, but again, we only recommend this one to the tech savvy.

Bluestacks is the most mainstream of all Android emulators. There are several reasons for that. For starters, it’s compatible with Windows and Mac. It was one of the first ones to work reasonably well. The emulator targets mobile gamers. Earlier versions of Bluestacks were kind of bloated. The newest Bluestacks, dubbed Bluestacks 4, came out in 2018. It’s not the cleanest experience out there. However, it has the ability to launch multiple instances so you can play multiple games at once (or the same game multiple times). It also includes keymapping and settings for many games installed. That should help make things much easier. It’s one of the heaviest emulators on the list. However, it also has the most features for better or for worse. Recent updates put Bluestacks at Android 7.1.2 (Nougat), one of the most recent of any emulator. The update to Bluestacks 4 also improved speed, even on older computers. It’s heavier than most but it works quite well in most situations.

Droid4X has had its ups and downs. However, it’s one of the classic Android emulators for PC. It features a simple design that should be easy for most people to use. It markets itself towards gamers and boasts support for simpler, casual games. However, like most Android emulators, you can do productivity stuff if you want to. This one is not in active development anymore. Its last update was March 28th, 2016. Thus, we recommend you tread with caution as this could be a buggy and unstable product. Droid4x is also Mac compatible. Finding the installer for that is a little difficult, though.

KoPlayer is a newer Android emulator for PC. It has also managed to fly under most radars until recently. Its main focus is for gaming. You’ll be able to use keymapping to emulate a controller with your keyboard. Players will also be able to record game play and upload it wherever they want. The install process is easy enough and it seems to work alright. Like most emulators, it does have issues that you’ll run into randomly. It bills itself as a middle-of-the-road emulator. You’ll be able to use it for a variety of things. The only bad side is that it is still buggy. Nevertheless, it’s a good, free option.

MEmu is another of the up and coming Android emulators that seems to do quite well. One of its biggest features is support for both AMD and Intel chipsets. That’s rarer than you’d think. Additionally, it supports Android Jelly Bean, Kit Kat, and Lollipop. You can even run multiple instances at once. That makes it one of the few emulators that goes as high as Lollipop. Like many, you can use this for pretty much whatever you want. It’ll support most games and most apps. However, we recommend it mostly for productivity. It’s free to download and use if you want to.

Nox is another Android emulator for PC for gamers. That includes utilities and additions that are specifically catered to helping gamers. You’ll be able to do things like game with an actual controller. This includes things like the capacity to assign “swipe right” to, say, an arrow key and simulate actual gesture movements directly on your keyboard or joystick if you have one. It’s a lot of fun and seems to work rather well most of the time. It’s also entirely free. Don’t pay attention to the lag in the video below. The emulator doesn’t lag like that.

Remix OS Player by Jide is one of the newer Android emulators for PC. It’s also one of the few that runs Android Marshmallow instead of Android Lollipop or Kit Kat. The installation process is pretty simple and using it also fairly easy. It caters mostly to gamers. There’s a sidebar with customizable options for you. It’s relatively new, so they’re still working out some bugs. Even so, it still works better than most and it’s free in perpetuity. The only main caveat is that it doesn’t support AMD CPUs.

Xamarin is an IDE. It’s similar to Android Studio. The difference is that it can plug into things like Microsoft Visual Studio. Also like the Android Studio, this comes with a built-in emulator for developers. It’s for developers only unless you feel like setting up an entire development environment to use it. Xamarin’s emulator is not as powerful as something like Genymotion, but it’ll get the job done if you intend on using this. It’s free for personal use. Companies and larger teams may have to negotiate a payment plan.

YouWave is one of the older Android emulators for PC. It’s been around for a long time. Its last update was in 2016, though. That makes it fairly current. The free version uses Ice Cream Sandwich. Forking out the $29.99 will get you the Lollipop version. It seems to work pretty well. The installation process was easy enough. It doesn’t have any game specific features but it will still play games. That makes it good for light gaming and productivity. This one has had quite a bit more development than most and we recommend it to those trying this whole process out for the first time. This one also has Mac support.

As it turns out, you can build your own emulator. Here’s how it works. You need to download VirtualBox (linked above). You then have to download an image from Android-x86.org. From there, it’s just a matter of finding one of the many guides online and following the steps. This is easily the most difficult Android emulator method. We don’t recommend you try without a tutorial and a little prior knowledge. It won’t work well, it’ll be buggy, and unless you’re a coder, it’ll be difficult to fix. Still, it’ll be yours.

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