Android market holds over 51,8% of smartphones all over the world. Therefore in April 2017 the Google Play store had over 2,800,000 published apps. In this guide I will present you how to run android apps on PC systems.
# Windows 7/8/8.1/10
# Linux Ubuntu/Debian/Mint
- Installation how-to for Shashlik, the Unix Android Emulator
- Managing already installed apk files on Linux
# Mac OS/OSX (10.09 Mavericks / 10.10 Yosemite / 10.11 El Capitan / 10.12 Sierra)
If you are looking into running multiple android applications and games on your Windows PC you should trust one of the most popular android emulators on market – Bluestacks for Windows. First of all this App Player has been developed back in 2011 and is constantly updated every few weeks. Also Bluestacks installs a sandbox application on your currently installed operating system. As a result you get clean and very stable android environment. This is perfect combination for easy-of-use. Because of all that advantages it has been installed over 130 million times. Emulator is distributed on freemium model, so it allows you to use this software legally for free!
Bluestack Windows installation guide (step-by-step)
Keep in mind your PC should meet the minimal requirements listed below:
- You should install this software with administration rights. Make sure you have access to admin account!
- You must have over 2GB of RAM.
- Your PC should have at least 4GB of free space on your HDD/SSD. Bluestack will allocate it for android apps and games.
- Bluestacks and BitDefender is a well-known no-go. They are not compatible, so if you want to use this Emulator you will be forced to uninstall BitDefender and it seems like there is no easy way around this problem yet.
- Your graphic card must support OpenGL 2.0 however this shouldn’t be a problem, because currently all of Nvidia GeForce, AMD and Intel cards are meeting this requirement.
Please note: if you have any virtualization software installed it may interfere with Bluestacks, as it installs it’s own Virtual Machine. List of software that may cause problems: Vmware Workstation, Oracle Virtualbox and Microsoft Virtual PC.
Checklist done? Great, let’s focus and continue!
1. Download Bluestacks from official website
2. Double click on downloaded file to start the installer
3. Accept the terms of license agreement by clicking Next
4. Select BlueStacks Data location. I’m strongly advising you to keep default installation dir.
5. Make sure you enable both options – App store access and Application Communications. It is very important to tick on these settings to make it work with popular applications such as Tinder, Instagram or Pokemon GO. Afterwards click Install button.
6. When the installer finishes you can run Bluestacks emulator.
7. On first start it will be necessary to run One Time Setup as it allows you to Sign-In into your Google account. When you’re done you can easily access Google Play store and install any application or game you want.
And this is it! If you followed all the steps you should be able to run most of Android applications and games straight from your Windows personal computer.
To install most of android applications and games on Debian-based linux distributions such as Ubuntu or Linux Mint we will need Shashlik. It is Android Simulated Environment which is currently by far the easiest method of running apk files on Linux. Let’s get it done!
1. Go to official Shashlik website and get latest release from download section:
- Ubuntu/Mint/Debian .deb package – shashlik_0.9.3.deb
Note: there is also AUR package available for Arch Linux users – click – however this is just a friendly tip. This installation guide will not cover Arch distro. Sorry!
2. In your terminal navigate to download location and run following command
sudo dpkg -i shashlik_0.9.3.deb
3. After dpkg is done with processing .deb package, open the folder with apk files in your terminal. You can install file by executing command
4 . In order to run your previously installed android application you should run following command in terminal session
/opt/shashlik/bin/shashlik-run name_of_png name_of_apk
Remember – during installation Shashlik created required files in ~/.local/share/shashlik folder. To start installed app you need to provide name of PNG file in addition to apk’s name. For example if you want to run sample_image.png with application.apk you need to type following command
/opt/shashlik/bin/shashlik-run sample_image application.apk
Don’t be afraid, it only looks complicated due to all that “hacking” stuff in console. After first run of your application or game you can easily access program from the menu, also you don’t have to bother with terminal commands anymore. Here’s another screenshot to show you an example how does it look like.
Now you can start your android applications just by double clicking on them, therefore no more typing stuff into terminal.
If you decide to uninstall your android application, then removing it from your system is very easy and all you have to do is to delete proper directory from Shashlik share folder.
rm /.local/share/applications [name_of_application_files_you_want_to_delete]
This is it, easy peasy lemon squeezy!
How to run android applications (.apk) on Mac OS / OSX 10.09 Maverics / 10.10 Yosemite / 10.11 El Capitan /10.12 Sierra
Running android games and applications on OSX system is as easy as on Windows. Just follow this short guide:
1. Go to official Bluestacks page and download latest installer of Bluestacks App Player.
2. Double-click on downloaded .dmg file. As a result you will see following window:
3. Double click on BlueStacks icon and follow the installation wizard.
Important: Make sure App store access and Application Communications are enabled during install.
It’s end of this quite long, but easy guide. I’ve got asked several times if the android emulators are good enough to run android apps on PC – the short answer is: you can run most of them. There are some applications and games that base upon components available only in smartphones, therefore you will not be able to even start them. While I was doing my research to write this article I found there are some hacks that will allow you to spoof or fake GPS in android applications. As a result you should get most of GPS-based applications working. I have seen people that are having success with running almost all of popular applications like Pokemon GO, Snapchat and Instagram directly from their laptops.
I hope I covered most of my reader’s questions, however if you have any thoughts, feel free to leave them in comments below.