Top 10 Android Emulators for PC and Mac in 2020

In Android app development and testing, emulators are crucial. After all, there are thousands of device models, with varying productivity levels, screen dimensions, and operating system versions. To make sure the product will run smoothly regardless of the smartphone it’s deployed on, development teams use emulators.

There are plenty of Android emulators developers and testers can benefit from. In this post, we’ll review the 10 most popular tools for running Android apps on Windows and macOS.

Top 10 Android Emulators for PC and Mac

Why Are Android Emulators Convenient?

By definition, an emulator is a tool that allows an operating system to behave like a different operating system. Emulators can display either an older version of an OS, identical to the host or a different OS altogether. When running an emulator, a developer can still interact with the original operating system installed on the device.

The benefits of emulators in software development and testing are impressive. Take a look at some advantages using these tools offers:

  • Higher graphics quality. Running an Android display on a larger and higher-quality computer screen offers app designers a higher level of details and allows them to tweak interfaces with impressive precision. 
  • The emulated version of Android will look and function identically to that installed on a smartphone;
  • Emulating Android on a desktop is more efficient than buying physical smartphones for testing and debugging. 
  • More collaboration opportunities since there are a lot of open-source Android emulators.

Top 10 Android Emulators For Windows and Mac

Emulators are a developer’s go-to tool for creating app design, testing, or debugging a project. To increase the efficiency of development and testing, consider giving these tools for emulating Android a try. 

1. Bluestacks

Any mobile developer has heard of Bluestacks at least one – it’s one of the most famous and functional Android emulators. Although the emulator is more common among gamers than developers and testers, its high performance speed, straightforward interface, and support for the newest Android version are appreciated a ton among developers.

Pros:

  • Has all Android features;
  • Straightforward setup;
  • Tech teams can manage multiple accounts at once.

Cons:

  • Performance bugs are common;
  • Lack of developer-facing features;
  • To use all the features of the emulator, teams have to pay a fee.

Pricing:

Bluestacks has a limited free version. For higher Android compatibility and access to managing multiple accounts simultaneously, tech teams need to pay $24.

2. Android Studio Emulator

Android Studio Emulator is a built-in tool that comes along with the integrated development environment. It has a wide range of extra features that facilitate development, design, and testing. Android Studio Emulator is available both on Mac and Windows computers.

The emulator is backed by Google, has bug-free performance, and gets updated constantly. There’s no lack of learning content that helps developers get the hang of the tool.

Pros:

  • Comes as a part of the Integrated Development Environment;
  • Doesn’t require extra setup;
  • Is geared towards tech teams.

Cons:

  • It’s inconvenient to download Android Studio if you typically use a different integrated development environment;
  • Slow application speed on the emulator;
  • Uses a lot of system resources.

Pricing: Android Studio Emulator is free.

3. KOPlayer

KOPlayer is another Android gaming emulator. It is convenient for Android gaming developers since there are entertainment-specific features – gamepad support, keyboard mapping, and others.

The tool is easy to set up and navigate – such simplicity makes KOPlayer a great choice for entry-level Android developers. As for the downsides, it’s common for the emulator to ‘freeze’ every once in a while, especially if it is running a heavily graphic app.

Pros:

  • Compatible with different screen dimensions and Android versions;
  • Straightforward user interface;
  • Gaming-specific features.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t support newer versions than Android 5.11;
  • Offers no special features for tech teams;
  • Recurring performance issues.

Pricing: the emulator is free.

4. RemixOS

RemixOS offers a deeper integration into Android. Development teams can poke around the source code and enjoy highly native interactions with the system. There are downsides to such an in-depth approach as well – RemixOS has to be installed as a separate partition rather than overlapping freely with Windows or macOS.

Another issue developers are unhappy about is limited Android support. RemixOS runs on Android Marshmallow – there’s no way to use the emulator to test apps on newer Android versions. Other than that, the tool performs better than most and offers native mobile functionality.

Pros:

  • Easy to use;
  • Multiple features for an authentic experience in gaming and e-commerce apps;
  • The emulator is free.

Cons:

  • Only Intel processors are supported;
  • No Mac support.

Pricing: free

5. Genymotion

Genymotion is a 100% developer-facing Android emulator. The tool is equipped with additional testing and debugging features. Other than being compatible with Windows and Mac, Genymotion can run on Linux.

There’s a free version for gaming and consumer use as well – developers can use it to run apps from a user’s point of view.

Pros:

  • Wide range of testing management and collaboration features, including cloud emulation;
  • High compatibility with operating systems;
  • Paid version supports the newest Android versions.

Cons:

  • Limited free version that runs only on Android Marshmallow;
  • Steeper learning curve than that of gamer-only emulators;
  • No way to customize display resolutions.

Pricing: to use developer-facing features, teams need to pay an annual fee. There are two pricing plans to choose from:

  • Business – $412/year;
  • Indie – $136/year/.

6. MEmu

MEmu is known as one of the most lightweight Android emulators for PC and Mac around. For now, the tool can only run on Windows (although the team stated the plans to launch a macOS version as well) – the good news is, both Intel and AMD processors are supported.

The tool goes easy on system resources, is easy to set up, and has no recurring performance issues. It has an earned reputation of a user-friendly gaming, development, and testing tool.

Pros:

  • Supports Android Lollipop, Marshmallow, and Nougat;
  • Location tracking and keyboard mapping support;
  • Intel, AMD, and NVidia processors are supported.

Cons:

  • No Mac support;
  • No advanced debugging functionality.

Pricing:

MEmu is a 100% free emulator.

7. Nox Player

Nox Player is one of the most intuitive and feature-rich Android emulators. Other than a hassle-free setup, the tool has a fully customizable interface, a lot of room for automation – testers can record and run macros. Unique gaming features are built-in as well, such as gamepad support and the use of keyboard commands.

The tool runs on Android 5.11 – that could be a little limiting for development and testing teams, eager to assess the performance of the project on newer OS modifications.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up and use;
  • A wide range of gaming features;
  • High customizability.

Cons:

  • Limited Android support;
  • Uses a lot of RAM.

Pricing: Nox Player is free.

8. ARChon

This Android emulator is different from alternatives in that you don’t have to install a software client to run mobile apps on a PC or a macOS device. Instead, you can use ARChon as a Google Chrome extension. It is extremely convenient in terms of system resources and RAM usage.

However, ARChon is known for a steep learning curve. Setting up an emulator takes a couple of hours – although the compatibility with all operating systems that support Google Chrome is worth the struggle.

Pros:

  • High graphic detail;
  • Runs as a Google Chrome extension;
  • Supports all common operating systems.

Cons:

  • Steep learning curve;
  • Only basic features are available;
  • Requires a separate toolkit to run smoothly.

Pricing: Archon is free

9. Andy Emulator

Andy is among the pioneers in the emulator market. The tool has been around for a while – now, it has a reliable reputation and a steady following among gamers and mobile app developers.

The long history of Andy is its curse, as well as its blessing. The downsides come with limited functionality and Android support – the emulator supports Android Jellybean – a relatively old Android version.

Pros:

  • Easy to install;
  • Supports macOS;
  • Lightweight and user-friendly interface.

Cons:

  • Limited Android support;
  • Has been at the center of crypto mining scandals;
  • Lack of developer-facing tools.

Pricing: Andy is a free emulator.

10. PrimeOS

PrimeOS is a feature powerhouse for developers – it’s fast, customizable, with dual porting support. The emulator recreates native Android experiences extremely authentically, both for gaming and development. Multi-window and keyboard mapping support certainly give this lightweight, user-friendly tool a couple of bonus points.

Pros:

  • Easy-to-use interface;
  • High performance speed;
  • Multi-window management support.

Cons:

  • No Android Terminal integration;
  • Emulator freezes are common;
  • No way to hide the taskbar.

Pricing: PrimeOS is free.

Conclusion

Android emulators are functional physical devices alternatives. Developers can benefit from relying on these tools to ensure the app’s error-free look and feel on different smartphones.

Since there are multiple emulators available both for Windows and macOS, take your time to give these tools a try and choose the one that is the easiest and most comfortable for you to use.

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