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.
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.