How much do you love Android? Do you love it so much that you’d like to use it all the time, even when you’re sitting at your PC? This might be taking the idea of being an Android fanboy a little too far, but there are lots of reasons why you might want to have Android running on your PC.
Just as you may emulate a second copy of Windows in a virtual environment for testing purposes, so you can do the same with Google’s mobile operating system. Not all that long ago I looked at how this can be achieved with VirtualBox and a freely downloadable ROM, but now I have another more impressive and stable option to share — Genymotion.
As some people found, the method I outlined in the original VirtualBox article did not work with all computers — when it did work, it was great, but there was scope for things to go wrong. It seemed that I was one of the lucky ones as I was able to run a virtualized copy of Android without any problems, but this was certainly not the case for everyone.
The method I’m about to run through with Genymotion still uses VirtualBox as its basis. This time however, there are a couple of key differences. Firstly, there is no need to have VirtualBox installed in advance as the installer includes it. Secondly, it is possible to emulate specific devices — so you could run a Nexus 7 within Windows 8.
So, let’s jump in and get started.
The first thing you’ll need to do is sign up for an account with Genymotion. Pay a visit to the website, click the Sign Up button and run through the process of creating an account — this is completely free.
An email will be sent out to you. Click the link it contains to activate your account and then you’ll be able to download the software by clicking the grey button to the upper right hand corner of the page — if you’re prompted to login, just do so using the credentials you have just set up.
You can then go ahead and download the software itself by clicking the Windows 32/64 bits (with VirtualBox) link — there are also versions available for Linux and OS X, but I’m going to concentrate on the Windows version.
The installer is fairly large at 112MB, so be prepared for a bit of a wait if you have a slower connection.
Install the Software
Double click the executable file you’ve downloaded to start the installation, and click Yes if you see a User Account Control dialog. From this point onwards the installation is very much like any other piece of software.
For the purposes of this article, I’ll assume that you don’t already have a copy of VirtualBox installed, so you can take up the installer’s offer to get it set up. This will install a virtual network card, and you will be briefly disconnected from your network, and the internet, while it is set up.
With VirtualBox installed, you’re ready to set about the task of getting Android up and running.
Launch Genymotion and click Yes to create a new virtual device. When prompted to do so, log into your Genymotion account. Once you are signed in, you can create your first virtualized Android device.
Genymotion is a little different from other Android emulation and virtualization tools. Rather than giving you the option of working with a generic device, you can instead create a virtual version of a specific tablet or phone.
There are a number of readymade ROMs for you to choose from — some are specific makes and models like the Nexus 7, while others are slightly more generic, such as a 10 inch tablet with a particular screen resolution. Just take a browse through the list, choose a device that takes your fancy and click the Add button followed by Next.
The ROMs themselves can be quite large — typically around 200MB — so be prepared for a bit of a wait if your connection isn’t lightning fast. Once the download is complete, click Next, enter a meaningful name for your virtual Android, and then click Create.
As you are virtualizing a particular device, there is no need to fiddle about with any further settings in VirtualBox, just click the Finish button and then select your device form the list before clicking Play.
If you find that Genymotion reports it is unable to start due to an IP address problem, it is worth restarting your computer to ensure that the installation has correctly completed.
Once your virtual Android is up and running, it is just like setting up a real phone or tablet for the first time. The welcome wizard will appear and you will be guided through the process of connecting your Google account, configuring your country settings and so on.
If you configure the same Google account that you have used on a real Android device you have, it is possible to create a duplicate of your phone or tablet so you can use Genymotion as a familiar testing ground for new apps.
This is also a great way to try out Android for anyone who wants to see how the operating system works before they get their hands on a tablet. Whatever you use Genymotion for, it can be put to various uses, and it is probably the easiest and most comprehensive method of Android emulation available. Give it a try and see what you think!