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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.

Use the built-in AndAppStore (AKA Soc.io Mall)

Android-x86 ships with the AndAppStore, now known as Soc.io Mall, for downloading apps. Unfortunately, the Soc.io Mall feels about as legit as a $5 Rolex. It hosts such gems as Hungry Birds and Droid Words Free. For those of you looking for ways to play their real games on their emulator, you'll have to use another option.

Download the APK files directly from the Internet

If you know the location of the .APK file you're trying to install, you can download it directly from the Internet. However, you'll have to make a small tweak to the system first.

  1. From the Android home screen, press the menu key on your keyboard (usually between ALT and CTRL) to bring up the main menu.
  2. Click settings.
  3. Click applications.
  4. Check the box labeled Unknown Sources to allow apps to be downloaded from anywhere.
  5. Press ESC to go back or Windows Key to go to the home screen.
  6. Download the .apk file directly from the Internet
If you're looking for an .apk file to download and test, try the most recent one at OpenSudoku.

Use ADB to push apps to your Android-x86 emulator (Windows Only)

This part is a bit more tricky than the two previous options, but can be invaluable for app developers and modders. 
  1. If you don't already have ADB on your system, download this package and unzip the contents to C:\ADB.
  2. Ensure Android-x86 is using a Bridged or Host-Only network connection. Do not use a NAT connection like we selected when getting Android-x86 to connect to the Internet.
  3. From within Android-x86, hit ALT + F1 to bring up the command line.
  4. Type netcfg and press enter. Record the IP address likely listed next to eth0.
  5. Hit ALT + F7 to return to the Android GUI.
  6. On your PC (not your virtual machine), press Windows Key + R to open the Run... dialog.
  7. Type cmd in the dialog box and hit enter to bring up a command prompt.
  8. Navigate to your ADB directory by typing cd \ADB and hitting enter.
  9. Type adb kill-server and hit enter.
  10. Type adb connect [IP address you recorded]:5555
  11. Place your desired .apk file in C:\ADB
  12. Type adb install [the exact name of your .apk] and hit enter
  13. You should see the .apk file install and then see it available in your app menu from within Android-x86
Follow along with the video to ensure you don't get lost.

You can also try pushing the most recent Google Play APK download and see if the Android Market will load, but in all honesty it's highly unlikely to work when launched in an emulator.

  1. Claudiu Toma September 3, 2012 at 8:50 PM  

    The "Download the APK files directly from the Internet" doesn't work. It will give you a message, something like this: "You cannot download apps without an sd card".

  2. Unknown September 4, 2012 at 1:00 PM  

    You should still be able to download the APK on your computer and push it with ADB if downloading it directly through the Virtual Machine.

  3. Drift4King February 8, 2013 at 11:48 AM  

    please help , I did exactly what you said , I even tried both ( bridged & host only ) options , I still get that message from adb ( unable to connect to or when bridged ( unable to connect to tried reunzip the adb package , restart my vmware work station , re install android , do it without installing , still get the frustrating message , please help

  4. Unknown October 9, 2013 at 3:20 AM  

    @drift4king remove the /24 from your ip, it should work after that.

  5. gbhari October 23, 2013 at 3:20 PM  

    when im trying to install it shows error that "length is 0-- too small

  6. Unknown December 30, 2014 at 3:08 AM  

    while i try to connect [ip ]:5555 it shows :unable to connect to [ip]:5555

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