The idea of virtualization is not new — tools such as VirtualPC, VirtualBox and Parallels have long made it possible to run virtual operating systems. It is possible to run just about any operating system in a virtual environment, and the same is true of Android.
If you don’t fancy the idea of fiddling with too many setting and like the idea of working with readymade virtual devices, Genymotion is the perfect virtualization tool for you. Based on VirtualBox, this tool can get you up and running in next to no time.
We’ve looked at Bluestacks and WindowsAndroid before – both of which let users install and use Android on their PC. But Genymotion is aimed towards developers and has a distinct feature which allows you to install Android on virtual tablets or phones of your choice.
Virtualize Android on Your PC
Fire up your preferred web browser and then pay a visit to the Genymotion website.
Click the Sign up button to the upper right of the page and then choose a username and password, enter your email address and proceed with the registration — you’ll also have to agree to the terms and conditions.
A few moments later you’ll receive an email from Genymotion. Click the link it contains in order to verify your account and then click the Download Genymotion button at the top of the page.
If you already have a copy of VirtualBox installed, you can go ahead and download the smaller version of Genymotion in the “Other platforms and versions” section of the page, but otherwise, click the Windows 32/64 bits (with VirtualBox) link to download the software you need.
The download is 111MB, so you may find that it take a little while to complete depending on the speed of your internet connection.
Start the installation and click Yes if a User Account Control message appears.
After clicking OK, run through the rest of the installation as with any other application. If you do not already have a copy of VirtualBox installed, you will be invited to set this up as well.
Be aware that installing VirtualBox will temporarily disconnect you from your network, so make sure you’re not in the middle of transferring files between machines. Once the installation is complete, launch Genymotion for the first time and you’ll be invited to set up a new virtual device — just click Yes to continue.
You will then need to log into the application; just use the credentials you chose when setting up your online account.
Once you are logged in, you can choose from a number of readymade virtualized devices. Take a look through the list and you’ll find various phones and tablets to choose from. Choose one that you would like to work with and click the Add button.
You will be shown a summary of the configuration of the selected device — this includes information such as the amount of RAM it has, screen resolution and Android version.
If you are happy with your selection, click Next to continue, but otherwise you have the option of clicking Cancel so you can choose something else.
You’ll have to wait a little while for the device to download. Sizes vary slightly, but expect to download a file of around 200MB or more. When the download is complete and has been verified, click Next.
Enter a name for the new device and click Create. You don’t have to change it from the default if you don’t want, but devices do have rather unwieldy names to start with. After a short pause while the virtual device is created, click Finish and you’re ready to start using it. Select the device you would like to use and click the Play button.
If a message appears asking if you would like to configure ADB (Android Debug Bridge), you can either click No or Stop asking me. You then be presented with the familiar Android boot screen — notice that controls for volume and power appear to the right hand side of the window.
Before long the setup wizard will appear and you can set about the task of configuring your virtual Android device just as you would a real phone or tablet. If you happen to have a touchscreen monitor, you can tap away as you normally would, but your mouse will work just as well.
When you have run through the basic setup, you’re ready to start using your virtual copy of Android. Head over to the Play Store and start downloading any apps you like to try out.
As long as your computer is connected to the internet, your virtual copy of Android will also be able to connect and transfer data.
There are many reasons why you might want to virtualize Android. If you already have an Android phone or tablet, you can use a virtual environment to test out apps without affecting your main device. It also serves as a great way for newcomers to get to grips with the way Android works.
If you are currently using iOS or Windows Phone, Genymotion gives you the opportunity to try out Android without the need to spend money on any new hardware. It’s is available now as a freeware download for Windows, Mac and Linux machines.
If you’ve used any software to install Android on your PC, let us know how has your experience been? Do all apps work as expected? We are keen to hear your thoughts.