When it comes to emulating Android on your desktop computer, Genymotion is hard to beat. It’s the next generation of the AndroVM open-source project, and simply makes it easy for both end users and developers to emulate various Android 4.x tablets and phones with ease.
Once installed, you’ll be prompted to sign up for a free account with Genymotion, which is mandatory before you can use the emulator. In time there will be a premium version of the software for advanced users, but the current feature set will always remain free to all.
After signing in, you’ll be presented with the launch screen – click Add to select (and download) an Android machine to emulate, with a wide range of generic and Nexus tablets and phones, covering various builds of Android Jellybean, to choose from. Downloads are typically a few hundred megabytes, but once done you’re ready to go.
Fire up your VM and you’re presented with a fully functional Android device running in a virtual window. Pick a model with the Google Play Store installed and you can happily test drive Android without having to pay a penny.
Genymotion includes some useful extra tools to help you navigate – all accessible down the right hand side of the screen. You can experiment with battery levels, switch on GPS and even link your webcam to the Android device. Tap and hold the power button in the bottom right-hand corner to access power options.
Everything works pretty much as you expect it to, and if you’re running a powerful PC or Mac that raw performance is translated into a zippy experience with your Android VM too. That makes it great for gaming and testing, but developers will appreciate its support for the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) too along with Eclipse and IntelliJ plug-ins.