Run Android on Your Computer

Screenshot of Jar of Beans Android Emulator
Screenshot of Jar of Beans Android Emulator.

There are so many interesting apps on Android that it would be great if you could have them on your computer. There are those games, and there are those communication tools that allow you to save money and to communicate using text, voice, and video. Well, there are things you can do to run VoIP apps like WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat, BBM and all the other apps you find on Google Play on your computer just like you would run them on your Android device.

You only have to install software called an Android emulator. It simulates the functions of an Android device on your computer and runs like an operating system within your computer’s operating system. Your mouse cursor does what your fingers normally do on your mobile device. You can then install and use the app of your choice.

Here is the most popular software for emulating Android on your computer.


BlueStacks is on top of this list because it is the most widely used Android emulator. It has interesting advantages over others. Its installation is very simple, as simple as any other app on your computer. In Windows, you only to open the downloaded file and click Next till the end of the installation process. It also allows you to install and run non-GooglePlay apps and .apk files on your computer. While most emulators require that you install other third-party virtualization packages, like VirtualBox for example, BlueStacks requires none of that. More importantly, it is free, although it does bug you with ads and forces you to install certain apps to go on using it. On the other hand, BlueStacks is a bit hungry on resources, especially RAM, and can make your computer slow in some cases. It is a great candidate for non-techie users who want simplicity, but you want to make sure your hardware is strong so as not to suffer performance issues.

Jar of Beans

This emulator runs Android Jelly Bean as the name implies. One very interesting things with Jar of Beans is that it is portable – there is no need to install the app, just double click on the executable file to fire up the nice Jelly Bean (version 4.1.1) interface after it decompresses. The interface is very nice and clean. It allows you to install .apk files as apps, and even gives you buttons for volume and other stuff. It is completely free and also requires no additional packages.

Android SDK

Android is the Software Development Kit from Google itself, so we are talking about something official from the headquarters here. Android SDK is a complete tool for developers of Android apps, as the name implies. It includes a mobile device emulator used to test your developed apps, but also to run existing apps from Google Play. It is, of course, free, and while anyone can use it without getting hurt, it is more for developers and technicians.


YouWave is very popular as well, although it is not free. It costs around $20, but there are trial versions. It requires Flash and VirtualBox to run and runs the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android. The interface has the screen split in two. On one side there is the Android home screen emulating the mobile device, and on the other half there is a list of apps on the ‘machine’. So it wants to take more advantage of the big computer screen. It is also easy to install and run and provides a user-friendly user interface.


GenyMotion is a commercial tool, and it being so, is well-groomed with constant support and improvement. It is, therefore, a refined emulator for development and testing, has many features and is more stable. It offers many Android versions, including the latest, resizable windows, screenshots, Java API, app installation via drag and drop, and many others. However, not all of these are free. Only the basic OS, GPS, and camera usage are free. All the other features come with a per user license of around $25 per month. Pretty expensive, but the target market according to me does not include you user lambda but development houses and things of the like. But the free version should be largely sufficient as a great alternative to all those mentioned above, especially given that it runs the very latest Android version on your computer. The hardware requirements are quite important. If you are trying it, make sure you have a powerful computer.


Andy is a quite advanced Android emulator. It has a lot of features, probably more than all those mentioned above. For instance, it allows you to use a remote control with the app. It works hard on interconnectivity between computers and mobile devices. It too gives you the latest Android version. Andy is not as easy to install and set up as the other tools, and is more for the geek, but is full of features that its site boasts of. Most importantly, Andy is completely free.