BlueStacks vs Andy – The best Android emulators on PC

August 5, 2014

BlueStacks has long been the gold standard for Android emulators on PC. It’s the name everyone knows and BlueStacks always seems to be doing something interesting. However, a new challenger has hit the floor. It’s called Andy. Can it take on the long-time champ? Let’s take a look!


BlueStacks 1 Android emulator

BlueStacks interface is extremely easy to use.

Ease of use and setup

Our first category is ease of use and setup. After all, what good is an emulator if you can’t figure out how to use it, right?

BlueStacks
For Bluestacks, setting things up was ridiculously easy. You go to the site, download the application, install it, and go. It’s super easy. Once you’re inside you can browse and install various games and access them on the bar at the top. When it comes to ease of use and setting things up, Bluestacks is practically idiot proof.

Andy
Andy started out the same way. Downloading and installing the app was easy. I did have a problem actually getting it to run but thanks to their support, I was able to figure out the problem. Once you actually start it up, it runs like any Android phone or tablet so the interface is familiar.

Andy does get some points for having a good support staff. They use Facebook as their support page and their people are generally pretty knowledgeable. In fact, shout out to Charlie from Andy because he’s the dude that helped me.

Winner: BlueStacks


BlueStacks 2 Android emulator

Both emulators handled light to moderate gaming relatively well.

Gaming

One of the bigger reasons people want Android on their computer is so they can play some games on it. Thankfully, both Andy and BlueStacks support gaming.

BlueStacks
In Bluestacks, it appears as though the main focus is for gaming. They don’t really recommend any normal applications and we assume the recommended games are ones that have been tested with Bluestacks. The games run fairly well. You can get ones in the Play Store that aren’t listed in Bluestacks recommendations but they tend to run a little clunkier than the recommended ones.

Andy
Andy focuses on an overall experience and offers a lot. It plays games well and in some cases, like Clash of Clans, it actually plays the game better than Bluestacks in terms of stability. This is especially true for network-based games which seemed to load a lot faster on Andy. Andy does have a remote option where you can use your device as a controller for better gaming support if you so choose. BlueStacks does allow game controller support as well but it requires a wired controller.

Winner: Andy


Andy 3 android emulator

Andy handles most Android applications with ease.

Productivity

The other really big reason people want Android on their PC is for productivity purposes. It’s a fun operating system to have but it can also help get some work done.

BlueStacks
Here Bluestacks doesn’t fail utterly but it comes close. It doesn’t seem to like to run regular Android apps as well it does games and that’s a shame. For instance, there was an excruciating amount of lag when simply typing in Google Drive. It doesn’t recommend any productivity apps so you have to go out of your way to find them. Really, Bluestacks wants to be a gaming emulator and it shows here. That said, there are a few productivity apps that do work well so if you need it for something very light, it could still work.

Andy
Like we stated earlier, Andy focuses on a more rounded experience and this is where it shows. The same sort of problems I was having on Bluestacks weren’t present in Andy. The Google Drive lag wasn’t present, apps loaded quickly and worked well. It’s also worth noting here that Andy can run things like Hangouts, and third party launchers, deliver notifications, and even use widgets. It also runs a higher version of Android than Bluestacks and that means you’ll have a higher app compatibility as well as better app stability.

Winner: Andy


Andy 4 Android emulator

Andy gives you the option to use custom launchers and widgets.

Misc features

We’ve talked about the big stuff, but what about the little things? They matter too!

BlueStacks
Bluestacks is pretty much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get deal. In a small way, simplicity is elegance and that means there isn’t as much guess work. That said you can sync Bluestacks with your Android devices to sync app data, texts, and the like if you wanted to. You can also sideload applications which is a fairly simple process. Overall, there are some things, but really not that many.

Andy
You can do pretty much anything with Andy that you can do with an Android phone. That includes sideloading applications, putting files on there from your computer if need be, file browsing, and some stuff we mentioned earlier like fully functioning notifications, widgets, and you can even root it if you need to.

One of the things I really liked personally was the ability to install third party launchers. Since it runs pretty much like any Android device, you can customize it like any Android device so between the custom launchers, wallpapers, widgets, icon packs, etc, you can turn Andy into a little window of customization and make it really yours.

The last thing I want to mention here is the ability to change the specs of Andy. It runs in a virtual machine which is actually customizable. You can open up the Virtual Box that comes with Andy and give it some extra RAM, change how many CPU cores it has, and various other small things as well. Beware, this is advanced user stuff, but you can totally go in there and give this bad boy 3GB of RAM instead of one and actually improve the performance.

Winner: Andy


Andy 1 Android emulator

Bottom line: BlueStacks will need to improve to retake its crown.

Overall

Overall, picking which one is better really depends on your needs. If you need something super simple that plays some light games and you really don’t need it to do much else, then Bluestacks is still probably your best bet. After all, like we said earlier, there is an advantage to having simplicity.

However, if you’re willing to go through the slightly more complicated set up process, then Andy is by far the more full-featured Android emulator. It’s way better for customization and productivity and, in some cases, even better at gaming. With the power user stuff available like root and adding resources, Andy is simply a better option for more demographics.

Winner: Andy


Wrap up

What do you think? Did we score this fairly? Which one would you pick? Let us know your thoughts and stories in the comments below.
Download Andy here
Download BlueStacks here

Comments

  • MasterMuffin
    • http://www.AndroidAuthority.com/ Darcy Alexander LaCouvee

      On it. Thanks @mastermuffin:disqus! Keeping us on point!

      • MasterMuffin

        I admit sometimes I feel bad for doing this, those are so small typos that they don’t really bother anyone. I’m eevul :D

        • http://www.AndroidAuthority.com/ Darcy Alexander LaCouvee

          It’s great @mastermuffin:disqus we always strive to make great content, and we work around the clock to serve you!

    • Paco Inurreta

      Well, its always handy to have something that emulates an Android environment to test new apps and also faster. I rather mess around in a big screen with mouse than on a small screen trying to find my way with my finger. Its also good for playing some games, I played Clash of Clans on Bluestack until it got blocked (at least last time I tried back in January)

      • MasterMuffin

        That wasn’t my point!

        • Paco Inurreta

          “Who needs an Android emulator for PC to be productive though, there are much better programs for PC than for Android for that purpose”

          It was.

          • MasterMuffin

            You know that if I say it wasn’t my point, it wasn’t no matter what you think, because I was the one making the point?..

            What I ment was that there are no productivity apps for Android that would be so good that you’d need the emulator for that, PC has better programs

    • rs

      There are a lot of things that no one makes for the PC and there is no PC equivalent. For instance I use a PC as an HTPC and we control some of the home theater with harmony link. The problem is Logitech does not make a harmony link control interface for the PC, they ONLY make it for android and ios. But many times we would like to turn up the volume or turn off or on the home theater from the PC without needed to pull out a phone.
      I tried blue stacks and it didn’t work twice. It couldn’t find the app, and when I finally side loaded it could not connect to the network.

    • Emi the Strange

      I know, productiviy sounds silly, the only reason I install these emulators it’s because some developers haven’t ported to Windows 8, like Whatsapp and Kik and some other messengers. even if it lacked fatures it would be better than installing an emulator but if developers are lazy like Kik ones… you can’t do anything but using a phone or an emulator on your PC. but after that… I wouldn’t need this if at least Windows 8 had kik, which some Friends seem to use.

  • Luka Mlinar

    Thanks for this. I was only using BlueStacks for Clash of Clans anyway. Time to take the switch.

  • crutchcorn

    I personally use BlueStacks. Not that I like it any better, just too lazy to uninstall. :P

    • Japzone

      Once you root Bluestacks and install a standard launcher like Nova, it isn’t bad. Feels more chunky though.

      • Paco Inurreta

        Whatt?? You can root Bluestacks? I havent used it since january but I guess its a nice thing to have.

      • crutchcorn

        Already used Nova. IDK how to root it…. Tried and nope! I’ll check out your link though.

  • HotInEER

    Curious that Avira said that the Andy site had known Malware.

    • Yossi FIshler

      it’s not the site it’s the oracle VBOX that is bundled with andy, we are working to clear it

  • yochanan

    No mention of Genymotion? It kicks Andy & Bluestacks butts.

    • motwera

      Andy is based on the Genymotion VHD ;)

      • Sierra

        It would be great if AA make a special articles covering all android emulators on PC.

        • http://www.AndroidAuthority.com/ Darcy Alexander LaCouvee

          That’s a great idea Sierra. We’ll add it to the list!

          • Alex

            That would be cool, if you could compare Andy whit Genymotion.
            Is there any other emulators than this 3?

    • Japzone

      Genymotion was my favorite, but lately they have been going further down the proprietary path, and they have been putting most new features behind an expensive pay wall. Also, since they’ve gone commercial with Genymotion, they had to remove GApps and ARM Support. I created a method of side-loading GApps and ARM Translation(and spread it around), but every update to Genymotion introduces more bugs with GApps and ARM Translation. So far, Andy has been running a lot better for me. Sure it doesn’t yet have nice features like Mic/Camera support, Location Spoofing, and other such features, plus it only has the one Android 4.2 version. But with Geny starting to put these behind their pay wall, I just can’t keep supporting them.

      • Yossi FIshler

        Mic is supported camera and location will be released in 3 days

        • Japzone

          Whoops, missed the mic being added. Must’ve been reading an old post. Glad to hear Camera/location will be added soon. Even more reason to completely drop Genymotion. Once “use device as controller” is also implemented then I’ll no longer be jealous of people who can afford Genymotion’s premium features :)

          • Yossi FIshler

            remote control is also ready, we are just adding auto detection between andy and the device, we have a working version where you need to enter the IP address of your machine manually

          • Japzone

            How do you use the Mic? I opened a sound app but It’s not reacting to my Mic.

          • Yossi FIshler

            which andy version do you have, it’s support from V0.29

          • Japzone

            The installer says v29, but hovering over andy.exe tells me 0.28.0.0.

          • Japzone

            I was informed that Mic support for Andy isn’t out yet. So what have you been telling me? -_-

  • edge

    If people can run Android on desktop, there’s no need for Google to support Android apps on Chrome, right?

  • Carl Draper

    how about one that i can run on my Linux desktop?

  • rafif prahastya

    how to fix andy startup problem

  • Manu

    Other than these two AMIDuOS is the Best one.It is Smoother .faster and gives full android experience.

    • Yossi FIshler

      DuOS isn’t free it’s $9.99 for a license and from what i see there is no dynamic ARM translation….look similar to the X86 project…

      • Ravindra

        @yossifishler:disqus : First thing DuOS is coming with 30 days trail period with full feature support and working experience on DuOS is not like working on an emulator like bluestack, andy and other android emulator currently in market. And ya off course it is a x86 project but it is internally doing ARM emulation with inter Houdini library, which I think way more faster then traditional ARM transition.

        • Ravindra

          @yossifishler:disqus : it’s Intel* Houdini :)

  • Attila Magyari

    Am I missing something, or did the author miss something? Can these be used for app development? How good is the integration?

    • Yossi FIshler

      Yes it can be used for app development, it’s free, install it and check it out……

  • siva

    I used Bluestacks for longer time and i tries Andy also. Personally i feel DuOS is far better than these two emulators, DuOS gave me complete android OS environment. Sharing the files from windows to android is the awesome feature i found in DuOS. Gaming is so smoother than the all the remaing. Even i can play videos in DuOS using shared folders. It’s performance and User interface is awesome.

    • kalyan

      yeah I liked it very much, its like running android os on your pc. The performance & features r good. The experience was new its not looking like emulator with all native android features. without using Andy i cannot compare them. I will update the pros and cons after trying Andy.I tried Bluestacks but DuOS is perfect alternative for that type of segment who need Android on Windows.

  • Will S.

    I’m pretty sure you can download a custom launcher for Bluestacks, I use Nova…But anyway, I rarely use Bluestacks, I just haven’t found anything it can do that a PC can’t do.

  • Tjaldid

    tried Bluestacks for a couple of months lagged as hell!! eventually gave up and got a nexus 7

  • trial

    how to uninstall andy and oracle vm virtualbox?

    • Yossi FIshler

      from the control panel add/remove programs

  • Ravindra

    Andy downloading process sucks man……….. it is taking too much time even my network is at high speed…..

    • Yossi FIshler

      it all depends on your internet connection, nothing we can help with

  • Neil

    Can anyone please tell me how to tweak settings for Andy via VirtualBox???

  • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

    You realize you could have taken screenshots from the PC using PrintScreen on your keyboard instead of photographing the display itself, right? This is Amateur Hour stuff.

    That said, thanks for letting us know about Andy.

  • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

    I wouldn’t install Andy; the executable’s verified publisher is Search Safer Inc, which a simple Google search shows is an adware/malware company.

    • Yossi FIshler

      Search Safer Inc helps us to build the installer we will be changing the signature very soon

  • Will S.

    I had problems running Andy too, eventually I got it to run somehow, but honestly, I don’t think its worth the effort.

  • tBs_Battousai

    Or if you back ConsoleOS on kickstarter you can have Android running on your desktop without the need for an emulator…

  • A.G.

    Which one is better for WA (whatsapp)? My gf in Jakarta is using BB (blackberry) with WA loaded on it, because it is convenient and does not cost her anything extra. Me, I hate typing on the phone for an hour or so, but our chats usually take some time. We tried Yahoo chat, but her BB hangs after 10 min., but WA works fine. I am looking for ways to use WA on my PC. So Andy or Bluestacks?

  • http://batman-news.com marinesos

    Andy is programmed in a very sloppy way. It installs virtualbox and bonjour service. I myself can get the android iso and install it without that annoying bonjour service on virtualbox. What is the point anyways??.. I honestly think Andy is an unfortunate attempt in terms of desig and programming. It is sloppy, slow and full of bugs (including keyboard bug where you cannot put “@” sign properly..). I would recommend the free version of Genymotion which is quite fast and (almost) bug free…