Are you a diehard Mac fan with a yearning to play some Android games or test out an Android-only app? With Android emulators, you don’t have to choose between macOS and Android. By installing an emulator on your Mac, you can run all the latest Android games and Android-exclusives on macOS. Emulators can also be useful if you’re building your own mobile app and want to test the user experience on Android.
Here are some of the best Android emulators for Mac.
Bluestacks is one of the most popular Android emulators for Windows and is probably the best Android emulator for macOS, as well. This emulator is built primarily for mobile gamers and claims to provide a “PC-like” gaming experience for your mobile apps.
Bluestacks has full support for the keyboard and mouse and comes with a set of recommended preset controls that are also fully customizable. If you do create custom controls, Bluestacks lets you export these settings so that you can easily share them with your fellow gamers.
When you launch Bluestacks for the first time, you’ll need to perform some initial configuration exactly as though you’re booting a new Android smartphone or tablet.
As part of this process, you’ll be prompted to sign in to your Google account. This allows you to download mobile games via the Google Play store. After entering this information, you should see the familiar Android homescreen with Google Play already installed.
You can now launch Google Play, find the app you want to run, and download it as normal.
After downloading your app, you can launch it and enjoy your favorite mobile game on macOS.
If you’re looking to test your latest Android project, Genymotion is worth a look. This Android virtual machine is targeted at software developers, so it has everything you need to test your app across a wide range of emulated Android smartphones and tablets.
You can run Genymotion as a local app or in the cloud. If you opt to run Genymotion on your Desktop, you can download it from the Genymotion website. Genymotion Desktop is free for personal use, although several paid licenses are available.
In addition, Genymotion offers a cloud-based virtual emulator service. Genymotion Cloud enables you to perform mass testing by spawning multiple virtual machines and running them in parallel. This can significantly reduce the time it takes to test your app, although depending on your plan, you may be charged for each virtual device you create.
3. Android Studio
Unlike the other emulators on this list, Android Studio is created by Google. This Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is aimed firmly at Android developers and has everything you need to design and build your own Android applications.
Using Android Studio, you can create an Android Virtual Device (AVD) that has the hardware and software configuration required to test your app.
You can then run this AVD on Android Studio’s emulator and see how your app handles this unique configuration.
Rinse and repeat to test your project across dozens or even hundreds of emulated Android devices.
With so many features, Android Studio isn’t the best choice for someone just looking to run a few mobile games on their Mac. However, if you’re an app developer, Android Studio is pretty much a must-have tool and is considered the official development for Android.
If you do use Android Studio, it’s worth noting that the Android emulator has a reputation for being slow. Features such as Instant Run have reduced the time it takes Android Studio to deploy your app, but you may still want to do some research into ways to speed up the Android emulator.
4. ARChon Runtime for Chrome
ARChon Runtime for Chrome is a unique project that lets you run Android applications inside the Chrome web browser.
This project uses the App Runtime for Chrome (ARC), which enables Android applications to run on Chrome OS. This means Android developers don’t have to completely rebuild their apps for Chrome OS.
Although ARChon Runtime for Chrome is technically a runtime rather than an emulator, it does make it possible to run Android apps on macOS. However, it should be noted that this is an experimental project. Depending on the Android application you’re trying to run, you may get unpredictable results.
When getting started with ARChon, it may help to download your applications from one of the Chrome APK’s subreddits. These subreddits are dedicated to finding and sharing apps that are compatible with this specific runtime.
This isn’t a straightforward, download-and-use solution, such as Android Studio or Bluestacks. However, if you enjoy tinkering with your tech, you may enjoy exploring the ARChon Runtime.
The above are some of the best Android emulators for Mac, though not everyone of them will be suitable for you. If you’re just looking to enjoy some Android games on your Mac, you probably won’t want to pay for Genymotion Cloud. If you want to test your application across multiple emulated devices, you’ll need an emulator that’s targeted firmly at developers, such as Android Studio.
Meanwhile, do also check out the best Android emulators for Linux if you are a Linux user.