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How to download and run Android apps on a Windows PC?
Introduction
In today’s ecosystem, every developer can develop easily an Android App and place it on Google Play, almost instantly. As a result, millions of Android Apps were created to-date, some of them unique to Android platform (not available on iOS). Usually, one should hold an Android device (smartphone or a tablet) in order to use an Android app, but fortunately, today there are a few options available to help users enjoy Android apps on without having an Android device. Today you can use Android Apps on your Windows PC! How can you do it? Here we go:
App Player – Bluestacks
BlueStacks is a company that was founded in 2011 with the mission to push the boundaries of the mobile ecosystem. With Bluestacks you can join 130 million people worldwide and enjoy the Android smartphone apps on your bigger screen/ Windows PC etc. Bluestacks allows users to enjoy multiple games and other Android apps on their computer with minimum hassle. Although it appears that Bluesnacks is just a visual aid/ a player to view apps on a PC, it actually runs a very heavy Android version behind its scenes with a built-in Google Play Store to allow users to easily view and purchase any app. The technology that’s behind this is called “LayerCake”, since the apps run a different layer on top of the regular Windows operating system. On the App player, users can see different app categories, navigate around the interface just as if they had an Android device, download the app, purchase it and more. In Bluestacks you get a full Google Play store, and it manages your apps pretty well. Most games are available and “playable” but some are difficult to operate and play with a PC mouse. Not all is perfect with BlueStacks. The main issue is tha fact that it has a non-standard Android build in it. Some apps may fail to run or crash unexpectedly and you can never know if things will work as smooth as they do on the Android device. In addition, the service is a freemium based model.
Android Emulator
One of the most popular ways to get Android apps running on a Windows PC is to use Google’s own emulator product known as the “Official Android Studio”. Google’s emulator is designed to help developers visualize any Android device, Android version, resolution or hardware configuration. This is intendant to be used by developers so the set up process may be somehow complicated. How do we begin then? First it is needed to install the emulator from the official Google site and then set it up with the desired Android version (you can on of the pre-set modules Google has prepared or create one of your own, manually). Now it is time to install the apps… It may be tricky since the emulator does not contain the Google Play Store. You should take the apk of the app you want to install and place it in to the ”tools” folder in your SDK directory. While the Android Virtual Device is running, use the command prompt: adb install filename.apk. and the app should be added to your emulator. Google emulator is a great tool to test apps before they are published or even loaded into an Android device. This is genuine up-to-date Android emulator. However, it is hard to use it for games or heavy apps, as it is slow to respond.
Android PC Ports
Android PC Ports is a great tool to enjoy a smooth Android app experience on your PC and it requires you to install a version of the Android operating system itself on your PC. The leading ports to run on a desktop PC with a full Android experience are: “Remix OS” and “Android-x86”. Remix requires a bare minimum of 2GHz Dual-Core processor and 2GB of Ram, but practically, you will need much more in order to enjoy the tool smoothly. You can enjoy either ports on top of Windows, but it is not recommended. If you know how, it is preferable to separate the hard drive (hard drive partition) and in stall the Android on one part (Remix helps you to do just that).
Which should you use to run Android Apps on a PC?
Emulator is a vey good way to just test something and then put it on a real Android device. It is a good fit for developers, since it allows them to try the app with different configurations, Android versions etc. You will be able to see how thing really look like on every Android device. The only drawback is its speed. Android Ports are solid performance when the apps are running, but they can be fussy about the requirements, so it is hard to set everything up and running smoothly. BlueStacks is best if you want to get multiple Android apps on your PC, try them out and use them. The player is fast has its own Google Play Store access and works on different Windows devices. For a long term use you might want to have your own Android OS on a PC, so RemixOS might be the solution for you. This will be a full Android base device on your PC.
How to install Android apps on a phone or Tablet?
Google has created Android and provides a main place to install apps from, known as the Google Play Store. However, Android is not like Apple’s iOS (where you can only install from the Apple App store), and there are different ways to install Android apps on your smartphone or tablet. Some low-end android device, don’t have Google Play at all and have their own play store. Although less comfortable, it is still possible to install apps to these devices from other origins.
Google Play Store App on your devide
This is the most common and used place and method to download and install apps. The Google Play Store app is usually pre-downloaded on your smartphone or tablet and placed on your home screen. You just need to locate it and lick on it in order to launch it. Once you are in the store you can browse through the different app types, categories, theme, free vs. paid apps and more. By clicking on the “Install” button, the app that you choose will be downloaded on your device shortly.
Google Play Store on the web
This is a very similar to the one described above, however it’s on your PC. It is much more convenient to browse through the apps on a big screen, using a real keyboard, navigate around until you get to the desired app and then install the app straight from the PC. First, you need to get to the Google Play Store on your PC (search for this term on Google search) and then get to the app you want to install. As long as you logged in with your Google account in both your device and PC, you can just click on the “Install” button on the PC and the app will be remotely installed in your device (tablet or smartphone). If you have more than one Google account, you can choose to which Google account you want to allocate the app to and the relevant device/Google account will start downloading and installing the app.
Third Party App stores
You can use 3rd party app stores in Android (such as Amazon’s app store for Android or Humble Bundle which sells bundles of indie games). In order to use a 3rd party app store, you first need to sideload the app store’s app (see our section about side-loading app). Some manufacorers and carriers have their own 3rd party app store, such as Samsung, but this is becoming less popular as they don't get much traction. With 3rd part app stores you should also be aware of the security risk, as you download outside the Google Play scope. Amazon’s app is safe, but validate which app you wish to download before doing so.
Side-loading Apps
Unlike Apple’s iOS, Android allows you to download and install apps from outside the Google Play Store. You first, need to enable this via the Android Setting -> Security -> enable “Unknown sources” check box. You need to be aware of the security threats by downloading from outside the Google Play and these may contain malware. The enabling option might not be available on some devices if the manufacturer has disabled it. Once you enable the side-loading App in your Android device, you can download any Android app in .apk format and install it straight to your device. In addition, you can also download the .apk to your computer, transfer it to your Android device and install it there. This feature allows you any app, including ones that are missing from the Google Play Store, such as third-party app store apps like the Amazon Appstore for Android and Humble Bundle app.
Side-loading from a PC
It is possible to sideload an app onto your Android device from a computer as well. If you have the app’s apk. You can upload it to your Android device and install it, either by connecting the computer to your device or by using an external tool (without connecting the device to the PC).