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I've just purchased Threema, a smartphone messenger that respects privacy, to run through an Android emulator on my computer. I thought that choosing an Android emulator should be easy, but, so far, I haven't found one that looks good enough.

I just want to run that messaging application, so I don't need much (graphics) performance. I'd prefer to use a "standard" Android UI, not a native helper application that calls the specific Apps on the Android System. Some file system access to load files from the host computer would be nice. It should respect privacy, and should be no CPU overkill, but rather economical on the host's resources. Regarding the host OS, I'd prefer Linux, but I guess the chance is higher to find something for Windows, so this should be OK, too. I'd be willing to spend some bucks if that helps.

I know that it is probably impossible to find something that fulfills all of them, but I'd be glad to find anything that gets as closely as possible.

My experience so far:

  • Bluestacks uses a native front end to launch Apps, no direct Android access. It places annoying ads and is mainly focused on games. The privacy policy allows them to collect any data of the user. Copying Photos from the host system took ages.
  • Andy OS eats a LOT of CPU because of running VMware in the background. It installs questionable games on its own, without confirmation, due to advertising. Usage is interrupted by launching these games, as well. Copying Photos worked OK, but could be better.
  • I can't get the official Android Emulator to run. I've installed the complete Android Studio, and enabled Virtualisation, but when I start the default Nexus 5 from the Virtual Device Manager, it doesn't get past the Android boot logo.

I can't believe that there is no Android emulator out there, that could be described as nice software. They can't be all that cluttered, can they? I'd appreciate any ideas!

Lukas

migrated from superuser.com Mar 30 '16 at 6:05

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  • there are loads of potential ones to try within android studio not just one labelled nexus 5.. I vaguely recall nexus 4 working and nexus 5 not.. in the emulators when i tried it.. But anyhow, genymotion is faster last time i checked..if you are to use emulators as you are. And many you can try within genymotion. i I doubt genymotion or emulators within android studio are that lean though.. maybe none are – barlop Mar 30 '16 at 2:18
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Genymotion has a free version and is available for Windows, OS X, and Linux (like everything in this list). It's based around VirtualBox, and has the same performance as you'd get out of any other VM running on VirtualBox.

If you're lucky, your app might work under ARC Welder for chrome. It doesn't have great performance, requires a chromium-based browser, and isn't very compatible with a lot of apps yet. But it doesn't require a full-blown VM, either, so if this happens to work then this is might be the easiest option.

Another option is Android x86. Similar performance as genymotion but the setup's not as easy and you won't have any sensors like you do with genymotion.

You could try running RemixOS in a VM or installing it alongside everything else on your computer. I don't know how far it's come since then, but I tried it a few months ago and it was a little rough around the edges compared to Android x86 and genymotion. It does look promising, though, and it booted up without any issues.

  • I've used Android x86 on VirtualBox. Setup is quite easy if you get the right image (some images are really weird to set up, if you manage at all). So if it isn't straight to install, try another one – which is what I did, and succeeded :) As for Genymotion: I don't like to have to register etc, so I've skipped it then. – Izzy Mar 31 '16 at 19:56
  • Genymotion fullfilled my requirements fairly enough. I tried RemixOS as well, but it wouldn't finish booting in my VirtualBox environment. I'll still give Androic x86 a go when I find the time ;) – LukeLR Apr 2 '16 at 22:55

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