We recently covered some of the best ways to run Windows apps on macOS. The goal was to overcome the lack of cross-platform software. This time, however, we have something different. We are going to talk about the ways to run Android apps on Mac. Yes, about using Instagram, playing Asphalt 8, or listening to Audible on Mac.
This time too, we have found several ways to run Android apps on macOS. Since different people have different purposes, we also have different methods. In this article, you will find the best methods to run Android apps on Mac for normal users, game enthusiasts, and developers. Now let’s look at the options?
Run Android apps on Mac
# 1 BlueStacks: best for running apps
BlueStacks (also called BlueStacks App Player) is the oldest and most popular way to run Android applications for Mac. You will be able to run almost any Android application using this simple emulator. It is the best option if you want to run WhatsApp on your Mac or access your Instagram account. You’ll be able to run your Mac and Android apps side by side, which is great.
The BlueStacks interface is impressive too. Applications open in individual tabs and you have access to the Google Play Store. Depending on the specifications of your Mac, BlueStacks allows you handle multiple applications with ease. Despite optimizations for running apps, BlueStacks also offers a true Android feel. You can even make changes from the Settings section.
Installing and using BlueStacks is very easy! You have to download the free installer from BlueStacks official site and run it. If you have already installed bluestack, please do a clean uninstall before reinstalling it. After the installation is complete, it may take a few seconds to start. However, before you can install apps, you must sign in to a Google account. All in all, we think it’s very easy to get started with BlueStacks.
When it comes to running applications, BlueStacks does the job very well. We were able to install and use apps like WhatsApp and Instagram without any problem. We also tried playing a game of Alto’s Odyssey.
- BlueStacks is really easy to set up
- Does not involve long installation processes
- Performance is optimized for applications
- It is not very suitable for games or development.
We think BlueStacks is the best option for those who need to use Android apps on Mac. It works well when it comes to running apps like WhatsApp and Instagram. While gaming performance is fine, we think there are better options.
# 2 VirtualBox: the best for more control
In essence, Android is also a Linux-based operating system. As it happens, you can install Android on Mac using a tool like VirtualBox. To do this, you need to create a virtual machine and install Android on it. Compared to the other options we have listed, this VirtualBox method offers better control over the Android device and the applications it installs.
Once the installation is done, VirtualBox offers you a pure Android experience. This is because we are installing the basic Android OS on the virtual machine. However, you should not expect an optimized environment to run applications or games. Most likely there are some bugs too. On the bright side, you can implement Android v8 Oreo on the virtual machine.
We would not say that Android in VirtualBox is easy to configure. There are some downsides that you will have to tolerate in the long run. To do this, you need download Android x86, a project that transfers the popular operating system to PCs. Then, as we always do, you can create a virtual machine based on Linux, Android. Once the installation is done, you will have a full screen Android experience.
While apps like WhatsApp and Instagram work fine, the performance isn’t the best. We also do not suggest this method if you like games.
- Offers more control over virtual Android device
- Can run the latest version of Android
- Offers a fully developed Android operating system experience
- Installation is somewhat complex
- Lacks customization or performance optimization options
- Possibilities of errors
Running Android on Mac using VirtualBox is best when you need better control over the process. As a virtual machine, you can also customize performance. However, in the long run, you will have to compromise on overall performance and game controls.
# 3 Nox Player Mac – Best Optimized for Gaming
If you want to play some graphics-rich Android games on Mac, Nox Player Mac is the best option in town. It is an Android emulator that prioritize speed and performance. There are also some features like screenshot, on-screen button mapping, etc. Once configured, Nox Player Mac also offers a standard Android experience.
Nox Player Mac also manages to run applications. However, we found that things are not as easy as BlueStacks when it comes to app downloads and installations. But, the reason why you should install Nox Player Mac should be to play high-quality games like PUBG on Mac.
To install Android applications on your Nox Player, you can sign in with your google account and use the built-in Google Play Store or if you don’t want to go through that hassle, you can download the apk using the browser and install it directly.
Nox Player Mac is the easiest to install. He doesn’t even ask you questions. Just run the installer and in a few seconds you will find the complete Android virtual tablet. That runs Android v4 KitKat – which is a disadvantage compared to others.
Nox Player Mac is perfect when it comes to handling popular applications. So if you want to bring some common applications and high-end Android games to Mac, then go for this program.
- Easy to set up and get started
- Performance optimized for games and applications
- Advanced features like keyboard mapping and location manipulation
- Not suitable for development
- Runs on Android KitKat
- Ships with some bloatware
Nox Player Mac is the best choice if you like high-end Android games. Even if you have a mid-range MacBook Air, it should offer the best performance. Also, thanks to the macro and mapping functions. We also recommend the tool to run WhatsApp and everything.
# 4 Genymotion: more suitable for developers
Genymotion is an innovative way to run Android apps on Mac and in the cloud, for that matter. However, it offers a lot of different options. If you are a professional, you can create a virtual Android device on a Mac or in the cloud. Let’s move on to the desktop version, which is great. You will be able to create a wide variety of Android configurations for testing purposes.
For example, you can change the Android version, the device hardware, etc. Genymotion is the best option to make sure your application runs flawlessly on all Android devices. However, if you are just starting out as a developer, you can also find standard solutions. Genymotion also offers some additional features, for example, embed your android app on the website and let people test the app.
You do not need to install Genymotion on your Mac. As we said earlier, it can also be used as a cloud service. However, Genymotion Desktop is really easy to install. We also use the Personal version of Genymotion. It is more convenient if you only want to test some applications. On the other hand, if you like the full-blown Android development experience, Genymotion Desktop is the way to go.
The execution of applications in Genymotion is not as smooth as the other platform. This is because the emulator is mainly focused on features that help developers.
- Amazing features for developers
- Various Android settings
- Better control over running applications
- Performance optimization could be better
Genymotion is the best solution for Android developers who want to run their Android applications on various virtual devices. It syncs very well with your coding process and customization needs. Thanks to the plugin, you can also integrate this program with Android Studio.
Take a look at Genymotion (free trial, $ 136 / year)
# 5 Andy: a smoother workflow
Last but not least, Andy is another way to run Android apps on Mac. However, compared to all the emulators we have listed above, Andy offers a smoother workflow. The best part is that you get a 100% complete Android experience When you begin. You get built-in apps like Gmail, ES File Explorer, and much more. However, it runs on Android KitKat v4.0.
Because Andy comes with access to the Play Store, you can download and install apps easily. There are also some other important features. For example, you can also run the Android emulator in portrait and landscape mode. In addition, there is Key Location mapping and manipulation. These features are great when you want a more streamlined way to run Android apps.
Andy has one of the easiest installers we’ve seen. It is an online installer, which would download files through an internet connection. It should be noted that Andy downloads around 500MB of files, the largest on the list. After the installation is done, Andy will show you the standard Android interface. You can use mouse and keyboard to manage virtual Android tablet.
Like we said, Andy is the best when it comes to running apps. However, it would not be our preferred choice when it comes to playing Android games.
- Easy to install and manage
- The best optimization for applications
- Offers a standard Android experience
- Works with KitKat
- It is lagging a bit when other applications are running
Andy offers the perfect level of optimization and a standard Android experience. We recommend this tool if you need a real virtual Android device on your Mac. Of course, there are some performance lags, but you can avoid them by avoiding multitasking.
Take a look at Andy (Free)
The best way to run Android apps on Mac?
So these are the five different ways to run Android apps on Mac. In a way, you are also creating an Android device within the macOS environment. As we said earlier, no one solution is one-size-fits-all. We have recommended Nox Player for Mac if you want to play. On the other hand, if you just want to use the apps smoothly, BlueStacks and Andy are the best options. And, for future developers, we will recommend Genymotion, which has a ton of features included.