Google’s Android software has grown into an extremely successful mobile platform. Many users enjoy the freedom associated with owning an Android phone. Since it is an open-source platform, anyone with the technical know-how is free to view, edit, or even modify the Android source code. This has given developers a lot of freedom to develop their own applications, and there are certainly many great applications out there. If you want to give Android a test drive, but aren’t quite ready to buy a device running it, you can run Android apps on your Windows PC to see what it has to offer you.
There are actually quite a few different ways to go about this. One of the easiest and most popular ways is Live-Android. There are two ways to run Live-Android. Let’s start with the first and easiest method:
1. Download Live-Android from http://code.google.com/p/live-android/
2. Live-Android comes in the form of an ISO image which can be burnt directly to a CD. If you use Windows 7, you simply double click the ISO image, and it will open up the necessary software to burn it to a CD. However, if you are running Windows Vista, or Windows XP, you will need to download additional software to burn the ISO correctly. I recommend ISO Recorder; you can download it at http://isorecorder.alexfeinman.com.
3. Once the ISO is burned, all you have to do is reboot the computer with the CD in and it will boot directly into an Android environment where you can test out different Android apps.
If for some reason your PC didn’t boot directly from the CD, the most likely reason is that the BIOS is not configured to boot from the CD drive. If you are unsure as to how to change this setting, you will need to consult the documentation that came with your motherboard. It will contain instructions on how to access the BIOS software. However, most computers should automatically boot without any problems.
Alternatively, if you prefer to run Android from within Windows, you will have to use a program called an emulator. There are many different emulators out there, but I recommend Virtualbox. It’s free to use, and it works just fine for running Android within Windows. Here are the steps to get Virtual Box up and running for Android:
1. Download the Live-Android ISO image from http://code.google.com/p/live-android/.
2. Download Virtualbox from http://www.virtualbox.org, you can install using the default installation options.
3. Once Virtualbox is installed and you have it open, you need to click ‘New’. This will open the Virtual Machine Wizard and allow us to begin configuring the environment that Android will run in.
4. Click ‘Next’, on the next window type in Android for the name. For the operating system option, you need to select ‘Linux’. Select 2.6 as the version.
5. The next screen asks you how much memory you want to allocate for the environment. You can leave this at the default recommended of 256MB and click ‘Next’ to continue.
6. The next screen asks us to setup a virtual hard drive for Android to run on. You can leave the size at the default option. Make sure ‘Boot Hard Disk’ is checked. Select ‘Create new Hard Disk’ and click ‘Next’. A new window will open and you can simply click ‘Next’ to get to the next screen. In the location field, you can type android if it already isn’t in field and click ‘Next’. Click ‘Finish’ on the following screen to complete setup of the virtual hard disk.
7. We are now back to the main screen of Virtualbox where we can now boot into the Android environment. Click ‘Start’ and you will be presented with the First Run Wizard. Click ‘Next’ on this screen and a new screen will come up that allows us to select our installation media. Click on the yellow folder icon, and a new window will open. Click the Add icon and browse to the location of the live-android ISO image that you downloaded previously. You then need to click ‘Select’ and you will be brought back into the Select Installation Media screen. Click ‘Next’, and finally you can click ‘Finish’ to finalize the process. Virtualbox will now boot into the Android environment where you can begin running Android applications.