How to Run Android Mobile Apps on Windows
You can run Android apps on a Windows PC or laptop using an Android emulator app. BlueStacks is one solution, but it's not entirely intuitive in use. YouWave and KoPlayer are alternatives for emulating Android in Windows.
The BlueStacks App Player is free to use. The program will allow you to run Android apps on your Windows machine, but as it’s not a full Android emulator you won’t get the full Android experience.
In order to use BlueStacks you'll have to sign-in with a Google account; if you don't have already have one you'll need to sign up for one as you would on any Android device.
A key emphasis of BlueStacks is on playing Android games under Windows, so when you run BlueStacks most of the screen will be taken up with game suggestions.
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However, unlike some similar packages, BlueStacks includes Google Play, so you can search for and install apps in just the same way as with a true Android phone or tablet.
We did experience a few problems, though, such as when we ran the Wind-Up Knight there were texture problems meaning we couldn't properly see our game.
Secondly, with some apps, the screen looked very pixelated although this is probably inevitable on a large PC screen when you’re using an app that had been written for a small low-resolution screen.
Thirdly, on a non-touchscreen PC, zooming with apps that expect pinch- and reverse-pinch gestures can be problematic. BlueStacks’ support pages suggest that Crtl + and Ctrl - should work, but we didn’t find that to be the case and it seems that it’s probably app-dependent.
A solution that claims to provide you with a full Android emulation on your PC is YouWave. Whether the issue of full Android compatibility is an asset compared to the app player approach of BlueStacks, we’re not so sure. YouWave uses Oracle VM VirtualBox as the emulation engine but, paradoxically, if you already have VirtualBox installed you have to uninstall it before installing YouWave.
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There are two editions, the Free Edition, which currently runs on Android 4.0.4 (ICS), whilst the Premium Edition runs on 5.1.1 (Lollipop) and costs $29.99, where you'll need to apply the Activation key within 10 days of purchase.
We found YouWave very similar to BlueStacks, even down to the issues of pixilation and zooming, but whereas BlueStacks seemed like a fully-working Android experience, YouWave reminded us more of an Android Tablet screen on our Windows machine. Either way, both will provide an acceptable Android experience, but if you’re tempted to take the YouWave route, we would definitely suggest you make good use of the free version before deciding whether to buy it.
There are other Android emulators out there, which are specifically designed to run Android games, such as KoPlayer that is aimed at those looking to play their favourite Android games on PC. However, you will need a graphics card that supports OpenGL 2.0 in order to run the program.
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