This list describes the features and functionality of programs that launch Android applications on PC in a simulated desktop environment. Some of them support games, others record desktop activity, etc. The list is intended to provide a comprehensive view of the feature sets of the more popular products of this category.
Demo, trial, general functionality
Support for multitasking
Runs multiple apps simultaneously
Built-in media capture
Records videos, takes screenshots, etc.
Compatible with non-standard controllers
Input devices other than mouse and keyboard.
Advanced interface customization
Panel displacement, feature acess configuration
Data transfer to the emulator
From the host operating system
Without constant Internet connection
Optimized for low-end computers
No extensive resource use
Built-in media capture
Video, screenshots, etc.
Nox App Player is the most versatile and multi-functional freeware Android emulator, allowing to download and instal programs, play games, record footage and customize the settings of the virtual environment in order to optimize speed and performance of applications. It is compatible with all Windows and Mac versions but does not support Linux-based platforms.
- Regularly updated.
- Sets up DirectX and OpenGL output.
- Key function customization.
- Supports script recording.
- Unlimited number of simultaneous tasks.
- Supports Full HD resolutions.
- Provides rooting access.
- Supports disk cpace cleanup.
- Supports shortcut customization.
- Exclusive interface skins available.
- Random bugs during game installation.
- No Linux support.
MEmu is the youngest player in the field, and it has a few tricks up its sleeve. With the diverse functionality rivalling that of Nox, it provides full-screen support, key mapping, enables recording of virtual desktop activity and many more. Full customization and productivity optimization are also possible. This emulator is second only to Nox in its compatibility and comes free as well.
- Keyboard mapping for gaming.
- Customization of PC resource usage.
- Support of 4K HD resolutions.
- Support for Android Lollipop and Jelly Bean.
- Sorts data according to file types.
- One-click APK installs.
- Poor compatibility with AMD processors.
- Requires video adapter driver update.
BlueStacks is probably the most well-known and popular program for accessing Android content on PC. With its diversity of features and simplicity of use, it makes up for the lack of optimization in some cases and the slightly confusing navigation. This emulator is compatible with all the current and older versions of Windows and Mac. The free version does not have a time limit, but lacks access to more advanced features. The licensed version is available at a monthly fee of $2.00.
- Supports direct installation of games.
- Works with standalone APK files.
- Supports HD monitors.
- Regularly updated for compatibility with new programs.
- Supports full-screen mode.
- Connects to Amazon AppStore.
- Requires at least 4GB to run without freezes.
- Free trial installs random components.
- No control for home screen apps.
Wondershare MirrorGo is a program dedicated to playing Android games on PC running on older and the newest builds of Windows. It lacks some of the more tech-oriented aspects of its peers but features the best gaming optimization. It has a demo mode for trying out the functionality and offers monthly or yearly subscription. The price for a month of usage is $5.95.
- Support for multiplayer games.
- Shares captured media.
- Synchronizes data with mobile devices.
- Direct access to social media.
- Sharing of captured media.
- Support for keyboard and mouse.
- Lack of standard app management options.
- Complicated installation on Android 4.2 and above.
YouWave is what you would call a "workhorse" of Android emulators. It provides the basic features for opening files, launching applications and downloading programs, but lacks any advanced functionality and sometimes works a bit slow. However, what it does, it does really well. The license is rather expensive ($29.99), but a free trial (active for 10 days) is available.
- Supports dynamic rotating of interface.
- Saves and accesses SD card data.
- Features volume control buttons.
- Universal access to time-management apps.
- Complete access to document editing.
- Compatible with PayPal and Google Wallet.
- Lack of advanced gaming features.
- Poor multitasking optimization.
- Some interface elements are confusing.
To conclude, the most functional and diverse application on the list seems to be the Nox App Player which is a little less popular than the working horses like BlueStacks. However, there is no doubt that many more emulators are available to provide a decent Android experience. If you'd like to share your opinion on any of them, fell free to do so in the comments below.