How to run Android 4.3 on your PC using VirtualBox

VirtualBox is an open source virtualization software that allows you to emulate a real computer. In this case it will be a x86-based computer.

We need first to install it. You can download installation at the following link:

It’s available for different platforms like Windows, Linux and Mac OS. Download the right package based on your OS.

As soon as you download and install it, you can move to download the Android 4.3’s image for x86 available at the following link:

In order to run Android 4.0+ you need to enable Intel VT-X or AMD-V in your bios configuration.

Now you need to open VirtualBox and create a new virtual machine. Click on New:

Fill the following fields:

  • Name : Android 4.3 (or any name you like)
  • Type : Linux
  • Version : 2.6

Click Next to move to the next page of the wizard and set the Memory to, at least, 1024MB (1GB) :

Click Next to all the other wizard’s pages leaving the default values. At the end of the wizard you’ll see something like this:

Now click on Settings and under Storage you need to select the iso file you downloaded before and click Ok.

You can now click on Start to boot the machine and after few seconds it will show the following screen. You need to select Installation and press Enter.

It’s now time to create a partition. Press Enter on Create/Modify partitions:

Now choose Primary, leave it the default size and press Enter.

We’ll make the partition bootable by pressing Enter when Bootable is selected. If the operation worked you’ll see under the Flags column the value Boot.

Using the Right Key move until Write and press Enter. It will ask to confirm and you’ll answer Yes. After it finish to write the partition you move to Quit using the Right Key and press Enter.

You have created the partition and now you can press Enter to use it to install Android.

You need to choose partition type ext3

It will ask you to confirm and you’ll reply Yes. It also will ask if you want to install GRUB and choose again Yes.

It will ask if you want to install /system directory as read/write and again Yes.

You finally installed Android 4.3 on your virtual machine. It’s time to run it!

The first time it will take some time to boot, but starting from the second time it’ll be faster.

Here we can finally see our Android 4.3 running. You’ll need to right click on the button below and select Disable Mouse Integration to see where you are tapping.

You can now follow the standard Android wizard and you’ll see Android 4.3 running on your PC.

Here some screenshots of Android 4.3 running:

Unfortunately some app/game do not work in this x86 version for various reasons, but you should be fine with the most common app choices.

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Top 10 Android Tips you should know about

Android is a very advanced OS and it has a lot of features but maybe you missed some of them.

Here a list of the top 10 most useful Android tips you maybe don’t know about.

1) Move apps to SD card

Most of our Android devices has SD Card support and it’s a good idea to move our apps to it and keep Internal Storage free.

You need to consider that some apps like widgets can’t be moved to SD Card for technical reasons.

You can move an app to SD Card by going to Settings => Applications then select the app and click on Move to SD Card button.

2) Clear default apps

How often do you set a new app as default for a particular action?

If we want to choose a new app to take the role of the old one, we need to follow a simple procedure.

You need to go do Settings => Applications then select the app and click on Clear defaults.

3) Reboot Android in safe mode (Jelly Bean only)

This is a new feature available in Android that will let you run the OS without all the 3rd party apps.

You can use this mode to uninstall apps that give you instability problems to your Android device.

You need to Long press Power button and when the menu will show you Long tap on Reboot or Power Off menu.

It will confirm to reboot into safe mode.

4) Customize Unlock screen

You can customize how you unlock your screen. There are different way to unlock your screen.

You can unlock using Slide, Pattern, Face Unlock (Jelly Bean only), PIN and Password.

To configure it you just need to go to Settings => Security => Screen lock and choose the method you like.

5) One tap direct dial

You can setup a shortcut on your home screen to call directly a contact with a single tap.

  • Android 4.0 or later : Tap on app drawer and select Widgets tab. Search for Direct Dial widget and long tap on it. It will let you move that widget where you want on the Home screen. After you position it you’ll select the contact from the contact list.
  • Previous Android versions : you need to long tapping on an empty space of your Home Screen, select Shortcuts then Direct Dial. It will prompt contact list and you’ll select the contact you like.

6) Take a screenshot

Android from version 4.0 provide built in feature to take a screenshot of the screen.

The most common buttons combinations are:

  • Power button + Home button.
  • Power button + Volume down button.

If you are on a previous version of Android you can try this app (For some smartphones it requires root permissions):

7) Offline voice recognition (Jelly Bean only)

Android from version 4.1 provide speech voice recognition available offline.

To setup it you need to go to Settings => Language & input =>Voice Search and tap on Download offline speech recognition

8) Control your data usage

If your Android version is 4.0 or above you can control the data usage for mobile data or WiFi. It will display total data usage and specific data usage for each application.

You can even set a limit of the data usage for mobile data.

To do that you need to go to Settings => Data usage and enable Mobile data and Set mobile data limit.

9) Find your smartphone IMEI

You can easily find your smartphone IMEI tapping the following code on your keypad *#06#

10) Freeze/Hibernate apps to improve speed, free memory and battery life

If you have slow downs on your Android device after you install some apps you maybe should try Greenify (it requires root permissions).

Greenify is an app that will hibernate the selected apps in order to avoid wasting CPU, memory and battery life.

Check out my post about it here:

I hope these tips will improve your knowledge of this wonderful OS.

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How to fake Android to think you have a different device

How many times do you want to install a nice app or game, but when you go to Google Play you discover that is not compatible with your device? Here’s few quick tips to install it anyway.

Easy way

We know that sometimes developers on Google Play restrict compatibility to some devices because they are not perfectly optimized for that device.

In other cases developers restrict installation of the app only from a specific country.

We now have the way to fake Google Play to think you have different device and even let it think we are from a different country with a different operator.

The app is called Market Helper and it requires root permission to work.

The first thing you have to do is to setup your phone to install from apk package because Market Helper is not available on Google Play.

You can just follow this short video:

Now that you can install an app from an apk file we need to download Market Helper apk from the following link:

Look for the link to download and install it. After you run you’ll see the following screen:

You can setup one of the phones/tablet from the list and a country/operator and tap on Activate. It will ask you for root permission.

After few seconds it will show something like this:

You now need to go to the Google Dashboard to update the change you did. You just tap on the link and it will open Google Dashboard.

It may be required 1-5 minutes to detect the new device.

You can now go to Google Play website and choose Settings from the icon on the right side of the screen:

As you can see my Galaxy Nexus is now a Galaxy S3 and my carrier is now Sprint.

If you want to restore your previous settings you just need to select Restore to everything and tap Activate. You always need to go to Google Dashboard to update your change.

Advanced way

While this app is easy and nice it does work only to fake Google Play to think you have a different device.

If you want to fake apps and games and you are brave enough I’ll show you an advanced way to do so.

We are going to change a system file called Build.prop. We need to be very carefully because it can create serious problem to your Android device.

You need first to install a file explorer. I’m going to use ES File Explorer File Manager:

You now need to give root permission. Open ES File Explorer File Manager and tap on the top left side of the screen.

Now tap on Tools

and turn On the Root Explorer option.

To be able to edit files under /system folder you have make it writable. You can do that by tapping on Root Explorer and choosing Mount R/W, then change /system to be RW:

You can now navigate to /system and you’ll see the file build.prop.

I suggest to make a backup by long pressing on it, then Copy, then navigate into your sdcard folder and tap Paste.

We can now edit it by tapping on build.prop under /system folder and choosing ES Note Editor when the system will ask which app to use.

As you can see the file has a lot of information about your device. This info are used by Android to detect informations on the current device.

When an app request to Android information about the device, Android will pick that information from this file.

You need to change the following parameters:

  • ro.product.model (The name of the device model)
  • ro.product.manufacturer (The name of the manufacturer)

I’ll change it to fake Nexus 4:

We now have to reboot the device and go to Google Dashboard to let Google Play detect your new device:

Here’s a screenshot of Google Play detecting my device as a Nexus 4! 

Any apps and games will detect your device as the one you configured, but this doesn’t mean every app will work.

Some apps are specifically implemented for some devices and maybe your device can’t run them.

Anyway you can always try and see if it works! 

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