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When using Android Emulators of any variety, you may find yourself looking to download the Google Play APK, formerly known as the Android Market APK. You can then either install the APK file directly from your Android device or use my previously outlined methods for installing apps on your Android Emulator from your PC by using ADB. Here's how to get your hands on a Google Play APK...

The Android-x86 emulator, while powerful and fast, leaves something to be desired when it comes to actually installing apps. Since the Google Play store is only available for licensed products, it is inaccessible from the default installation of Android-x86. Fortunately, there are a few other methods you can use to install apps on your Android emulator.

Once you've installed and set up your Android x86 emulator in VirtualBox, there are a few important hardware keys you may be curious about. Since the Home, Menu, and Back keys are not physically available on your virtual machine, here's how you access them.

Home: Windows Key
Menu: Menu Key (between Alt and Ctrl)
Back: ESC
Vol Up: Vol Up Key
Vol Down: Vol Down Key

Dolphin Browser HD is bar none one of my favorite apps for the Android platform. It's fast, smooth, versatile, and has a wide variety of plugins available for download. Now, with its new Dolphin Sonar technology you can surf the web faster than ever simply by using your voice....

Getting the Android-x86 emulator networked properly from within VirtualBox has proven to be more of a challenge than I'd anticipated. Fortunately, I've figured out exactly which steps need to be taken in order to successfully get Android-x86 to connect to the Internet from within VirtualBox...

1. Get rid of long distance calls.

With an Android emulator installed on your PC you have the ability to make all your calls using your Internet connection and various Android apps. Skype, Tango, and Google Voice all allow for placing calls directly through your Android emulator of choice. By using this method you'll never have to buy a calling card or wait for "off-peak" minutes again!

2. Get rid of your texting plan.

Using your Android emulator there are several options available to you that allow you to send texts from your computer. You can use the built-in texting features of Google Voice through your emulator and do away with your texting plan entirely. Or if your friends and family members are using a smartphone-specific app such as Kik Messenger, you can install Kik on your Android emulator to send and receive BBM-style messages to anyone with an Internet connection.

3. Turn off your phone while at your desk.

Historically, Android devices have not always been the best at keeping a charge. With an Android emulator installed on your PC you can have all your favorite apps running through your computer and turn off your phone while sitting at your desk. This way you'll save battery and save yourself the hassle of charging your phone later in the day when you most need it.

4. Use Android widgets on your PC.

There are countless Android widgets available on the market that do everything from tell you the temperature to give you live stock quotes. Most of these widgets are not available for Windows 7, so with an Android emulator you can install the widgets and have access to all your important, custom-tailored information without ever opening a web browser.

5. Avoid buying an expensive Android device.

If you're in the unique position where having an Android device would be greatly beneficial for you, but you can't afford to buy an Android phone plus a cell phone plan, you're in luck. If you have a computer you can install an Android emulator and get all the benefits that any Android device would offer -- for free! With an Android emulator installed on your PC you can simply launch the Android operating system and download any fully working, Android-specific apps you'd like.

Obviously, installing a free Android emulator on your PC such as Android-x86 or BlueStacks makes it easy to save time and money. So, what are you waiting for? Check out this video to install Android-x86 on your PC in less than 5 minutes, then get saving!

While BlueStacks is probably the easiest way to go about testing Android apps in an emulator on your PC, it does not allow you to play around with the core settings that make up the Android operating system. The Android-x86 project takes it one step further to give you the full Android experience through an emulator. In order to get the Android-x86 emulator for your PC, you'll have to do a few things first...