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 gapps-L-4-21-15.zip
  3. After rebooting, go to Google Play and sign in. Dismiss any crashes
  4. Download and install benzo-gapps-M-20151011-signed-chroma-r3.zip
  5. After rebooting, go to Google Play and update all installed apps
  • Eugen

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

  • Rob Prouse

    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.

  • Eugen

    Hi! Thank a lot for your post.
    I’ve try to install on Android 6.0 emulator, everything goes fine, but after last restart on step 5 my newly created dev account become disabled. With link to https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/40695?hl=en

    Is it violation of Google politics? Should I submit for account restore?

  • Rob Prouse

    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.

  • Vlad Bilyk

    I also use 5” Marshmallow (6.0.0) XXHDPI Phone image (see details).

    I’m newby in Xamarin and Android development, where can I get system Android logs (something similar to Windows Event Logs) for troubleshooting?

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b29d266312e15caae35a5baf7ba01fa1a3ce8aca3a9b653b40c37712a1e3509e.png

  • Rob Prouse

    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?

  • Vlad Bilyk

    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…

  • Rob Prouse

    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.

  • Vlad Bilyk

    I’ve sucessfully installed “Genymotion ARM Translation”, gapps-L-4-21-15.zip and benzo-gapps-M-20151011-signed-chroma-r3.zip 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).
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/592dd46e2138f20ad64c7b706724945fec358f9854a61fdbd014fc9e97a31d70.png

  • Rob Prouse

    Thanks. I totally forget I had to do that on one of my computers. Good find.

  • R Ben

    THat worked! Thank you glad I found these comments! and of course Thx Rob!

  • R Schmitt

    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!

  • R Ben

    Same issue here anyone have a solution or workaround?

  • R Schmitt

    Thanks, Rob for posting the update for 2017. I am emulating 6.0 and followed the directions. The reboot, after gapps-L-4-21-15.zip, 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 benzo-gapps-M-20151011-signed-chroma-r3.zip. Should I start over?

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