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What are Android Emulators and How to Setup an Android Emulator?

There are a variety of reasons why you would want to run an Android emulator on your PC. Mobile app developers always look to test their app thoroughly before the launch. Gamers would want to use a particular mouse and keyboard for their games. Anyway, Android emulation is feasible on PC and it is quite simpler than it used to be. There are some old emulators which are no longer active (Andy, AmiduOS and Leapdroid) but today we are going to discuss the most trending Android emulators for your PC. Firstly, we will cover what Android emulators are, an in-depth guide to setup an Android emulator and the top 5 most trending Android emulators in 2021. 

What is an Android Emulator?

An Android emulator is a software designed to simulate the software and hardware of an Android mobile device for development and testing purposes. Android emulators can run on both Mac or PC so that it is easy to develop Android applications on your PC. Because these emulators can run on both PC and Mac it enables a user to test their apps on Android.

Playing or testing games is a common reason to use Android emulators as you can use it to run any app available in the Google Play Store. For instance, if you run Instagram in an emulator, it is feasible to post pictures, statuses and IGTV videos from your PC that is not possible from the desktop app. This is because the platform is built for mobile and Instagram has not enabled users to upload from their computers. 

Guide to Setup an Android Emulator

After the launch of version 25.3.0, Android distributed its emulator separately from the SDK tools. Setting up your Android emulator might be overwhelming at first, but you can check out the process below.

Hardware Requirements

You would require Android SDK edition 26.1.1 and higher. Your PC should have a type 64 processor or 86 bit to work with the Android emulator. If you are going to run Android 8.1 and above, you must have a webcam to capture 720p frames. 

For most systems, the emulator allows hardware-acceleration of your device’s performance and you need HAXM edition 7.2.0 Intel hypervisor to implement this. Users with Linux and Windows require additional device elements but this is based on their processors. 

  1. For Windows PC, users can depend on AMD Android Studio edition 3.2 and above.
  2. For Linux, users can depend on the AMD system with SIMD set 3. 

Intel users can utilize Intel VT-x and Intel 64 support Execute Disable Bit capability. After installing the emulator, you can proceed to access the Android manager for Virtual Devices.

Android Virtual Device Manager (AVD)

Android Virtual Device Manager allows users to install a system ABI that matches the architecture of the processor being used. The AVD manager enables you to prop up and align your Android devices. 

It includes pre-configured profiles for smartphones, tablets, TV – each particularly designed for every manufacturer. It enables you to personalize external capabilities and screen size and to import a profile of your choice. 

But, Google Play Store along with its test suite for compatibility is included on limited devices, the ones that are connected with Android’s compatibility program. The AVD manager can then offer you to install a system ABI that the emulator suggests and whose architecture would fit your processor. 

The AVD’s verification configuration enables you to change defined software or hardware profiles and configures device settings including name and orientation. Finally, the emulator launches your virtual device specs and allows additional controls and upgrades like geolocation, device rotation, camera, fingerprint sensor etc. Virtual devices enable you to save instances in the same state which offers you to pick up from where you left earlier. 

Top-5 Trending Android Emulators in demand

Let us now check 5 of the most happening Android emulators in demand in 2021.

BlueStacks

bluestacks

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BlueStacks is popular by many users to be one of the most popular Android app emulators in the market. Apart from working on both Windows and Mac, the BlueStacks emulator is filled with a variety of features to improve the user experience. The most renowned features include the Key Mapping Tool to develop customized control schemes, the Instance Manager through which you can build multiple instances of the emulator and run multiple games simultaneously. Moreover, there are great features like Eco Mode, which reduces the resource consumption when playing heavy games. It is also touted to be one of the safest emulators with certified GDPR compliance and your data is safe with them.

The latest version, BlueStacks 5, is one of the fastest and lightest emulators providing high power gaming even on low-end devices. The most recent version focuses on the common grievances from the previous version like it can feel bloated when running on a low-end device. You can now try it yourself to find out why BlueStacks has a thriving community of more than 500 million users around the globe. 

LD Player

LD Player

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LDPlayer is a lightweight Android emulator which is dedicated to gaming performance. It is run on Android Nougat 7.1, the features are gaming oriented like great keyboard mapping controls, multi-instance, macros, high FPS and graphical support. It can run various high end games like Epic Seven, Clash of Clans, Arknights and more. This is one of the only emulators that gets active updates to enhance compatibility. In the most recent versions, LDPlayer has optimized the smoothness of Free Fire and Mobile Legends and fixed the device restriction on Moonlight Sculptor. Moreover, LDPlayer is a good emulator for running popular applications like Instagram and Tiktok. It is quite similar to BlueStacks in its design elements which is a good thing. Overall, it is a great emulator and is hence ranked in the top 5 trending emulators in 2021. 

Bliss OS

Bliss OS

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Bliss is a little different from other emulators in this list as it works as an Android emulator for PC through a virtual machine. But it can also run on your PC using a USB stick. The boot-from-USB option is a power user option and not recommended for less intense use cases. As a Virtual Machine install, the process is straightforward but complex if you have not built your own virtual machine before. The USB installation method is even more complex, however it lets your PC run Android natively from boot. We do not advise this method for first time emulator users. Hence, this makes Bliss OS a popular yet unique choice if you can get past the initial stages. 

It runs seamlessly if your system is compatible and hence be ready with a backup of your existing operating system. The system runs Android Oreo which is the more recent version of Android included on an emulator. 

GameLoop

gameloop

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GameLoop is a dedicated Android emulator for gamers and it was previously called the Tencent Gaming Buddy. In fact, Tencent still hails it as an official emulator for games like Call of Duty: Mobile and PUBG mobile. Now, there are other games apart from Tencent’s although the collection is not as big as they would like it to be. The emulator is easy to download and is good for games but it is not useful for productivity or developmental testing. But, if you are looking for mobile FPS gaming with certain titles then this is a great emulator as it has a new collection of latest titles. Moreover, it also comes with good keyboard controls and satisfactory overall performance. 

Memu Emulator

memu-emulator

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MeMu is a great Android emulator that works well in the gaming community. One of the best features is a continuing support for both Intel and AMD processors. Most work well on AMD processors but it is good to see developers giving attention to the AMD platform. Apart from this, it also supports Android Jelly Bean, Kit Kat and Lollipop. You can run multiple instances at a time using multiple games or testing features. It targets the gaming community and at the same time is a good tool for productivity too. The premium version is USD 2.99 per month and it will help you disable ads and add more customized options along with support. Moreover, the emulator also gets updates quite frequently. 

Wrapping Up

Android emulators have clearly updated device capabilities and user experience and taken it to the next level. They take care of many purposes like testing applications and gaming on large screens. An Android emulator can be a worthy addition to your electronic devices as it enables you to connect multiple aspects of your devices. The ideal Android emulator, you can update the capabilities of  your devices and improve your user experience accordingly. If we missed out some of the best Android emulators for PC, let us know about it in the comments section below. 

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Dhruvil is a marketer for Nimblechapps, an app development solutions company joining December 2014, based out of Sydney, Australia. He has worked briefly as a Branding and Digital Marketing Manager before moving to Australia. At Nimblechapps, he worked on Social Media Marketing, Branding, Email Marketing and Blogging. Dhruvil studies Business at University of Western Sydney, and also handles Operations for the company in Australia.