Can You Run iPhone Apps on Android and Windows?

Many apps that run on Apple's iOS also have Android versions, and even macOS and Windows versions. This is especially true of apps from the biggest companies like Facebook and Google, and of some of the most popular games. But some apps are exclusive to the iPhone. For those apps, you may be wondering: is there a way to run iPhone apps on Android or Windows devices?

Generally speaking, the answer is no: You can't run iPhone apps on other platforms. When you dig in, though, you find that while using iPhone apps on other devices is hard, but there are some options for people who are really committed.

Can You Run iPhone Apps on Android?

The differences between the two leading smartphone platforms—iOS and Android—are extensive. From a technological perspective, they're very different. That said, there are a few ways to emulate iOS on Android and run iOS apps there.

  • Appetize.io: This paid service lets you run iOS in your Android web browser. You can upload iOS apps to the service and test them there. This isn't the same thing as installing an Apple app on Android, though. It's more like connecting to another computer that runs the iOS and then streaming the results to your device. Learn more at Appetize.io
  • Cider: An iOS emulator created by students that should let you run iPhone apps on Android. Beware, though, the software is still a bit rudimentary and doesn't support basic features like Bluetooth or GPS. Download Cider
  • Cycada: A team of student programmers at Columbia University developed this tool that allows iOS apps to work on Android. The drawback? It's not publicly available.
  • iEmu: This emulator is similar to Cider, but more polished and full featured. It's one of the best options for running iOS apps on Android. Download iEmu

An important thing to be aware of is that these emulators may not work with the latest versions of the iOS or may not support all iOS features and apps. They may work some of the time, but they're not perfect for every app and every situation.

Wondering if you can use iPhone features like Siri on devices other than the iPhone and iPad? Check out How to Get Siri for Android or Windows Phones.

Why iPhone Apps Don't (Usually) Work on Android

Using apps designed for one operating system on a different OS is a serious challenge. That's because an app designed to be used on the iPhone, for instance, requires all sorts of iPhone-specific elements to function correctly. The same is true of Android and other operating systems. These elements fall into three broad categories:

  • Hardware architecture: When software developers create their apps, the apps are designed to work on specific smartphone hardware. For instance, the app may be designed to work on a certain type of processor, and without that processor, the app won't run.
  • Hardware features: Some apps employ hardware features only offered by the devices they run on. Think of the iPhone's Touch ID fingerprint scanner or M11 motion co-processing chip. If an app requires you to log in using your fingerprint, but there's no fingerprint scanner on the phone, the app won't work.
  • Software features: This is the software version of the hardware requirement from the last point. If an app tries to use a specific software feature—like Notification Center widgets or iCloud, for instance—and finds that that feature isn't there, it won't be able to work.

Most developers create separate iPhone and Android versions of their apps, but that's not the only solution. There's a long tradition in computing of emulation, which creates a virtual version of one device that can run on another device.

For example, Macs have a number of good options for running Windows. Apple's Bootcamp helps you literally install Windows on an Apple machine, while the third-party Parallels software creates a special environment within macOS that can run Windows. Emulated Windows runs slower than a computer running Windows natively, but it offers compatibility when you need it.

Can You Run iPhone Apps on Windows?

Windows users may have an option that Android users don't: There is an iOS simulator for Windows 7 and up called iPadian. There are a number of limitations to the tool—you won't be able to access the App Store using it; iPhone apps have to be made compatible with it and very few are—but it will get at least some iPhone apps running on your PC.

There have been many reports that iPadian has installed malware or spam and ad programs on users' computers, so you probably want to avoid installing this.

Microsoft has added a wrinkle to the idea of running iPhone apps on Windows. In Windows 10, Microsoft created tools to allow iPhone app developers to bring their apps to Windows with relatively little reprogramming. In the past, creating a Windows version of an iPhone app might have meant rebuilding virtually from scratch. This reduces the number of extra work developers will need to do.

This isn't the same thing as taking an app downloaded from the App Store and running it on Windows, but it does mean that it's more iPhone apps could have Windows versions in the future.

Running Android Apps on Windows

The iPhone-to-Android path is pretty difficult, but if you have an Android app you'd like to use on Windows, you've got more options. While these programs are also likely to have some compatibility and performance problems, if you're really committed to running Android apps on Windows, they can help:

Running Apple Apps on Android

As we've seen, there aren't surefire ways to run an iPhone app on Android. However, if you want an app that's made by Apple, you might have more luck. Apple makes apps that are also available on Android. Most notable among these is Apple Music, but there are others. They can be downloaded from the Google Play store.

For more about using important Apple apps and features with Android, check out Got Android? Here Are the iTunes Features That Work For You.

The Bottom Line

There aren't many great options for running iPhone apps on other Android. For now, it makes sense to either use apps that also have Android or Windows versions or to wait for them to be developed.

It's unlikely that we'll ever see really good tools for running the apps designed for one device on another. Instead of hoping for an emulator, it's more likely that the tools for developing apps will solve this problem. Those tools are likely to make it easier to write an app once and then deploy it on multiple platforms. We just need to wait for those tools to become polished, powerful, and widely used.

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