Installing Google Play (GApps) on Visual Studio Android Emulators (2017 version)

The Visual Studio Emulator for Android does not ship with Google Play Services, so if you want to use those services, like Google Maps, you must install them.

Back in 2015, I outlined the installation steps, but those steps no longer work and the process is now much easier.

Download GApps

The best place to download GApps is from Team Android. Do not download from Open GApps, they will not install. Some versions from Team Android also do not install. I had to find an alternate version of GApps that installs and runs on Android 6.0. This requires an extra install, so see the instructions at the end.

The GApps versions I have found to work are,

API Android Ver Notes
23 6.0 Marshmallow [Part 1] [Part 2] See notes below
22 5.1.1 Lollipop [Download]  Play Store crashes occasionally
21 5.0 Lollipop [Download]  Google+ crashes
19 4.4 KitKat [Download] [Mirror]
17 4.2 JellyBean [Download]  Google+ crashes

Install Genymotion ARM Translation

The Visual Studio emulators are x86 whereas most Android devices are ARM based. I find that many apps work as is, but for those that don’t you should download and install Genymotion ARM Translation which provides ARM to x86 translations.

Download the ARM Translation ZIP, then drag it onto your running emulator. When the dialog opens, select Install and shut down.

Once it finishes installing, shut down and restart the emulator.

Installing GApps

Installing GApps the same way by dragging the correct ZIP file and drop it on the running emulator. When the dialog opens, select Install and shut down.

When you are prompted, shutdown the emulator and then restart it.

Configuring GApps

Once the emulator restarts, open Google Play and sign in with your account. Once you are signed in, go to My Apps and update all installed apps. Once the various Google apps update, you will likely get notifications that you must update Google Play Services. Click on one of them to update.

On several versions of Android, Google+ will crash repeatedly. Dismiss the crash dialogs and try to update it using Google Play. If this does not work, go into App Settings and disable it.

Installing on Android 6.0

The version of GApps from Team Android crashed on Android 6.0, but I figured out a workaround based on z3ntu’s post.

  1. Download and install the Genymotion ARM Translation then restart the emulator
  2. Download and install
  3. After rebooting, go to Google Play and sign in. Dismiss any crashes
  4. Download and install
  5. After rebooting, go to Google Play and update all installed apps

23 thoughts on “Installing Google Play (GApps) on Visual Studio Android Emulators (2017 version)

  1. Hello, I have been using the Visual Studio (Microsoft) Android Emulators for a while (VS 2017). I had 4 different profiles (All Marshmallow builds) working just fine, until I reset the profile to reset the devices back to factory settings. After doing so, I am unable to drag and drop anything into them.

    Google only turned a Microsoft document related to the drag and drop issue and suggested to use RegEdit to modify the path for the root directory of the Android SDK, where adb.exe resides. I checked that and the path to the SDK is correct so that is not the cause.

    Oddly enough, if the device has not been reset yet, I can still drag and drop zip files to it. It only prevents this after I click on the reset profile and restart the device. I does reset it alright, but there is not much I can do with gapps

    Any suggestions or links to a potential solution are greatly appreciated!


  2. It would be great if some of the features of the Xamarin Google Emulators were available in the Microsoft versions, such as the Keypad drivers that often are part of SmartTV systems.

  3. Just in case anyone is having that, make sure you signin on google play before installing `benzo-gapps-…`

  4. Good to hear that you got it working. If you don’t need Hyper-V for other development tasks (Docker, VMs, etc), then you can use the emulators that you were first using. They are more up to date and ship with GApps pre-installed. You will need to disable Hyper-V, install the Intel HAXM drivers, then use the x86 based emulators. They are just as quick, but conflict with Hyper-V which is why many of us use the Microsoft emulators.

  5. Okay.. so I had to upgrade from Windows Home to Pro… I recently rebuilt and didn’t realize I selected home. Once I did that I was able to install the Visual Studio Android Emulator.. Moving right along now. The play store is on the device.

  6. I’m running the emulator that is comes built into Visual Studio 2017. When I drop “Genymotion ARM Translation” onto the emulator, VisualStudio_android-23-x86_phone nothing happens. Nothing happens when I drop any of the zip files onto the emulator. I am not running in admin mode.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  7. I reinstall emulator and sign in with regular account. Works grate for 6.0 and 4.4. Thanks a lot!

  8. Odd, I’ve been doing this for years and never had my account disabled, but I use my regular account which is a valid Google developer account. I wonder if this is some sort of measure to prevent fake app reviews? My guess is that it is because it is a new account whereas mine is well used and makes regular purchases?

    I would submit for a restore and see what they say. Please report back if you learn anything.

  9. In Visual Studio, you can go to Tools | Android | Device Log… for a Visual Studio Window.

    There is also Tools | Android | Device Monitor… which launches a separate app with more functionality. Careful, it tends to launch underneath other windows, so you might not see it come up. I prefer Device Monitor for any serious debugging.

  10. Which of the emulators are you using? I’ve got it working on the 10.1″ XHDPI and the 5.5″ XXXHDPI images for Marshmallow. I do find this whole process to be very unstable and buggy though. I really wish Microsoft could work with Google to include this in their images.

    Has anyone else seen the errors that Vlad is seeing and offer suggestions?

  11. Rob, I’ve checked it twice – the network works fine, I even receive a text message with 2-step verification code from Google, I enter it, but something wrong happens when emulator sends or validates the verification code to Google…

  12. Is the network working on the emulator? Open a browser and make sure you can browse. If not, let me know and I can help you get it working.

  13. I’ve sucessfully installed “Genymotion ARM Translation”, and to Android 6 in my VS Emulator, but I cannot login to Play Store. I enter my acocunt and password, I receive 2-step verification code, I enter the code, but after that I constantly get the error “Couldn’t sign in. The was a problem communicating with Google servers.” (see picture below).

  14. Just found this on another site and it did the trick for me: open Hyper-V manager, select the Android VM->Settings->Processor->Compatibility, and check the only checkbox over there, to “migrate to a physical computer with a different processor version”. — Good luck!

  15. Thanks, Rob for posting the update for 2017. I am emulating 6.0 and followed the directions. The reboot, after, has my emulator stuck on the Android boot screen and then the “Android is starting… optimizing app n of 11.”… I have let it churn for a couple hours but it just keeps running through this cycle over and over. Never got a stable launch yet where I could drag-n-drop Should I start over?

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