An Android app emulator for Windows lets you try out new applications or test drive applications on your PC. You may have tried experimenting with such an application that comes bundled with the software development kit. But there are third-party apps that offer the best simulation experience.
An emulator is used to test an application in a simulated environment to see if it can perform really well in the actual device. Besides testing out an app, it also lets you try out new applications launched on Google Play.
Third-party Android emulators make it possible for you to play the latest games or experiment with a brand new utility app. There are quite a few applications that allow users to run latest software and games effortlessly. Here’s a rundown of some of the best app players:
BlueStacks is one of the top emulators that allow you to try out new mobile apps on your PC. It runs old as well as new apps launched on Google Play. You can try out your own apps, but make sure it has an “.apk” extension. All you have to do is right-click on your apk file and select the app player to test it out.
There was a time when BlueStacks could run only a handful of apps, but new enhancements have now turned it into a complete emulator. You can now run almost any application or game effortlessly. However, you may experience slow frame-rates while playing 3D games. The app player has a nifty search option where you can type in the app name, click on the search result and wait for the app to install completely.
The app player also lets you tweak and manage installed apps. You can change the app size (tablet, large phone or default), uninstall apps or add an onscreen keyboard. There’s also an option to sync your device with this app player for smooth app synchronization between your phone/tablet and PC.
The best part of the application player is its interface. I found it very simple and clutter-free. I could easily find my installed apps via a menu enlisting all applications horizontally. There’s also a vertical sidebar that suggests new apps for us to download. BlueStacks is still in beta mode and is available free, but it may turn into a paid app in the future.
2. Jar of Beans
Jar of Beans is a new user-developed emulator that’s doing the rounds at the moment. Developed by “UnrealManu”, the app player runs all apps and games supported by Android Jelly Bean devices. The best part of this app is that games that require hardware graphics acceleration run smoothly on this emulator.
Jar of Beans is second best to BlueStacks when it comes to emulating apps and games. It can play games on Full-screen and can automatically switch to “tablet mode” for Android tablet-supported games. There are plenty of settings which can help you customize your gameplay and app usage experience. It offers a wide range of configuration options, including different viewing modes, a virtual SD card and keyboard support. In future versions, the emulator will boast multiple resolutions and skins.
Jar of Beans can also double up as an app-testing sandbox. You can easily test your apps without requiring a real device. You can create your apk files and install it to your emulator. It has a special button that lets you to import your apk files stored on your computer. Since it allows custom settings, you can easily tweak options according to your app preferences and can even create a virtual SD card of any size you want. A must-download Android emulator for your PC!
3. AMD AppZone
AppZone is an emulator Android gamers have been waiting for! Powered by BlueStacks, this free app player is exclusively developed for players who would love to play 3D Android games on their PCs. However, users will need an AMD powered-PC to play games on this emulator.
The best part of AMD AppZone is that it can run games in full-screen. The AMD website also has select games that you can install and play on your AMD-powered emulator. Not only games, but also some of the top productivity apps and utilities are listed in the AppZone application page. Like BlueStacks, the app player allows for easy synchronization between apps on your device and computer.
AppZone can be used to try out some of the top Android games. The app player is not suitable for application testing. If you are looking for a complete mobile gaming experience on your laptop, then you should try this out.
YouWave supports apps built for Android 2.3 devices and performs exactly like your phone or tablet. It can rotate the screen, play multiplayer games and has simulated memory card functionality, allowing users to save their game in the same way they would do in an actual device.
This Android app emulator for Windows has an in-built application store that lets you search for a game or software and download it to your PC. However, there are some restrictions (read: flaws) that won’t allow downloading of some apps. The app player can’t play games like Angry Birds, because of the unsupported hardware. Angry Birds have ARM native code and run on devices powered by ARM processors. YouWave does not support this, nor does it support applications that require hardware sensors.
You can try YouWave for 10 days, but be ready to shell out 14 bucks to get the full version. Unlike other free Android emulators for PC, YouWave will provide the full version only if you purchase activation key worth $14.99. While the program is good for trying out simple apps, I would recommend BlueStacks if you want a complete Android emulation experience.