Running "full" Android on a Mac

19 February 2014, 04:27

Sometimes I want to check-out Android apps. Although I have an Android tablet, for initial investigation it’s easier for me to use a virtualised Android setup on my Mac.

The problem is that although there’s one or two projects to bring Android to x86 architecture, such as modern Macs use, they don’t bring with them the useful Google apps, such as the Google Play store. Esssentially they’re bare-bones Android, probably because of licensing issues, and complexities involving accessing an app store full of ARM-based apps.

It turns out it is actually possible to run a pretty convincing ARM-tablet or ARM-phone Android experience on a Mac, including things like the Google Play Store. And it runs pretty quickly too. Here’s the basic steps.

  1. Download and install VirtualBox.
  2. Visit the Genymotion site, register with them, and download their Android virtualizer for Mac OS X.
  3. Start Genymotion and then install either the basic custom 10in tablet or 7in phone packages as directed.
  4. Start the virtual machine so the Android desktop appears, then using your Mac’s browser download the ARM emulation package. Drag and drop the zip file on top of the Android window (DON’T unzip it first!) You’ll be asked if you want to add-in the modification. Choose to do so then quit and restart the Android virtualisation.
  5. Download the Google apps package again using your Mac, and repeat the step above — drag and drop the zip file on top of the Android window. Again, install it when prompted. Quit and restart the Android virtualisation.
  6. Once the Android virtualisation restarts you’ll have a clone of a bog-standard Android tablet and/or phone, and will be invited to setup from scratch, as if powering-on a new Android device.

Some tips for general use are not to resize the window, because this can cause flickering.

Many thanks to Stack Overflow user anp8850 for figuring out this solution.

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