While the cheap and clever little Raspberry Pis are great for all sorts of projects and experiments, not to mention tinkering, installing Android on them isn’t the easiest thing. There have been several different ‘almost-but-not-quite’ solutions out there, but each of them falls flat in one way or another.
Assuming your Raspberry Pi is 3B+ or newer, there is now a solution that lets you install Android on the machine. First up: It’s not free, though there is a free trial version available. The service in question is called emteria.OS.
Step 1: Make an account
First up, you have to register on emteria.com. Click on the button in the top right corner and go through the steps in order to set up your account. You’ll have to confirm your email address before you can properly access the service, but once you’ve done so, you can get the installer.
Step 2: Download the installer
Download it onto a microSD with enough space so that you can use it with your Raspberry Pi. You’ll have to install an emteria client on your computer so that it can then generate the Android image file for you.
Simply enter the username and password that you set when you made your account and pick the right device to install it to – for example your Raspberry Pi 3. Select the right location for the file – the microSD – and burn the image onto it.
Step 3: Set up and go
Once your image is flashed onto the drive, you simply need to plug it in and run it – you’ll be faced with a complete Android setup on your Raspberry Pi. You should be aware that the free test-version of emteria has some limitations – it has a watermark in one corner and will only work for eight hours at a time. If you want to do more than test out a few things, invest in the full version license!
Step 4: Sideload apps
Once your Android is running, you’ll want to use it – for that, you’ll probably want some apps. There are several ways to get those. Probably the most popular way is to use F-Droid to locate and install the apps of your choice, but you can also just sideload them if you prefer.
While F-Droid works almost exactly like the Play Store and comes bundled in the emteria Android version, sideloading apps will require you to download an APK and to then run it on your system. Find a trustworthy source, load up the APK and your app will install automatically.
This is particularly great if you are trying to install an older version of an app, or something not available on F-Droid, such as Netflix, for example. Simply customize your build with whatever you want to install and you’re ready to roll!
Please be aware that there are some restrictions on what hardware will work with these builds. You can find a list of what works and doesn’t on the emteria website.
Make sure your microSD is big enough for the image – while the exact size will depend on your version/OS, a minimum of 16GB is recommended. Invest in one with higher write/read speeds – this will directly affect the reaction time and speed of the system, and you’ll thank yourself later!
Priced around $21 per full license, it really is worth it to invest in the whole thing!
There is no support for the Raspberry Pi from Android developers whatsoever, meaning there is a very real chance some of your favorite apps will struggle to work – don’t be disheartened if things don’t go right on the first try.