Requirements and Installation
Andy is an Android emulator that runs on Windows 7 or 8 requiring a minimum of 3GB of RAM and up to 20GB of free disk space. The CPU of the machine running Andy must support virtualization. In the installation document found on Andy's FAQ page, Andy recommends using a neat tool called CPU-Z (download) to determine if virtualization is supported by your machine's CPU and enabled in BIOS settings.
I was able to download, install and run Andy without checking or changing my CPU's BIOS settings. So, based on this anecdotal evidence, if you have a fairly modern machine manufactured in the last 3 years or so, odds are good you will probably be able to do the same.
Andy has a comparison chart on its product page comparing features against two other Android emulators: Bluestacks and YouWave. So if all requirements are met and you like Andy's touted feature set, click the download link at the top of Andy's homepage.
Besides installation of an app, a toolbar application is installed playful nicknamed HandyAndy. Before starting Andy, I highly recommend right-clicking this toolbar icon, selecting Settings, System Bar Toggle -- ensuring the System Bar is toggled ON.
Then, this message should flash above the desktop:
Andy may be started using the HandyAndy toolbar -- or by traditional means: Clicking a desktop shortcut or a shortcut in the Start menu.
Andy presents a fairly typical Android "screen."
I first ran the Settings app, checking technical details. As this screenshot illustrates, Andy runs Android version 4.2.2, aka Kit-Kat:
Next, I opened Google Play to install a handful of apps. I encountered no problems installing or running any of the apps I tested. And, as far as the apps were concerned, they were running on a normal Android tablet.
Although Andy does not require a touchscreen, using the touchscreen of my laptop almost made me believe I was using an Android tablet -- especially when running Andy in full screen mode. There was little lag and the emulator -- Andy implements VirtualBox behind the scenes-- was fairly responsive. Integration with other PC hardware like wireless networking hardware -- including laptop's battery power level -- was seamless and trouble-free.
The notification dropdown also worked as it should, displaying the same messages I normally receive on my real Android tablet.
Certain Android apps "flip" Andy into portrait mode -- this is necessary because certain apps only work in portrait mode. After closing apps such as these, Andy is still in the same screen mode. For situations like these, the Andy's System Bar is invaluable -- allowing a user to change the screen orientation at the click of a button.
This toolbar becomes visible when the mouse pointer is moved to the bottom of Andy's desktop window -- that is, as long as it has been toggled ON before starting Andy.
Andy also makes sharing files locally a snap, during installation Andy created a C:\users\USERNAME\Andy folder. On my system, this folder was created inside my C:\Users\glasskeys folder:
So, to access this folder, use the ES File Explorer app in Android…
…and browse to the sdcard/Shared path, the Andy folder points to the same Andy folder created in the Windows file system.
For technical users, the HandyAndy toolbar contains many useful features -- such as the VM Launcher -- which enables management of multiple Andy virtual machines. Other features include Local and Android IP information, and the Settings menu permits the user to change screen dimensions and mouse scroll settings of the VM.
Last, but not least, HandyAndy contains a Term Shell utility:
Summing it all up
If you need painless, free, full-featured Android emulation for the Microsoft Windows platform -- I highly recommend Andy.
This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?