Installing Android on Raspberry Pi 4 with Play Store


Installing Android on Raspberry Pi is difficult to achieve. I previously created a tutorial on this topic using Emteria and a Raspberry Pi 3, but Emteria is a paid software, and the system was a bit slow and unstable on Pi 3. Today, I’ll give you an alternative solution that allows you to run Android on Raspberry Pi 4.

Konstakang created a custom image of LineageOS, an open-source version of Android, that can be installed on Raspberry Pi 3 and 4. Then, adding Google Apps to the SD card will provide a complete Android version that can run on your Raspberry Pi.

In this tutorial, I will guide you through all of the steps with LineageOS, which is a good alternative to running Android on Raspberry Pi 4.

Edit: I recently tested this Android version with a touch screen for Raspberry Pi (I have this one from SunFounder to be precise), and it works very well. Android is designed for touch devices, so it makes sense :).

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What is LineageOS?

Introduction

LineageOS is a free and open-source operating system, like most systems I introduce on this website.
The first thing to understand is that LineageOS is made for smartphones and tablets, it’s not an emulator or something specially dedicated to single-board computers.

LineageOS was created in 2016 and is a fork from CyanogenMod. It comes with a few basic applications (browser, calendar, calculator, etc.), but it doesn’t come with any Google applications or any useless preinstalled software.

If you are interested, you can get further information on their website.

Does LineageOS work on Raspberry Pi?

Well, I won’t write about something that doesn’t work on Raspberry Pi on this site. So yes, there is a way to make LineageOS work on your Pi, but it’s not with the official release.

As you can see on the download page here, LineageOS is available for many devices (Samsung, Huawei, Sony, etc.), but not for anything other than smartphones and tablets.

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However, there is an unofficial version available on this website for Raspberry Pi 4.
It’s not the latest LineageOS version (Android 11 at the time of writing), but it’s good enough for now.

So, I’ll show you how to install this version on your Raspberry Pi 4. There is also a version available for Raspberry Pi 3 if you use this model.

One good idea is to use it with a touch screen. This way you can get a real Android tablet for cheap. As explained in the Introduction, I have tested it with a 7″ one from SunFounder, and it works really well (you can read my review here).

Installing Android on Raspberry Pi

Here are the required steps to install Android on Raspberry Pi:

  • Download the LineageOS version for Raspberry Pi from Konstakang.
  • Download OpenGapps and save it on a USB key.
  • Flash the LineageOS image on an SD card and start the Raspberry Pi.
  • Reboot in recovery mode to install the Google apps.

I will now explain each step in detail.

Prerequisites

You’ll need to download several things before starting the installation process. It’s not always easy to download it directly from Raspberry Pi, so I recommend downloading it from your computer. I will explain what to do with each file later.

So, download all these files on your computer:

  • Balena Etcher.
    We’ll use it to flash the SD card. It’s available on any operating system.
    You may already have it or prefer another tool, which isn’t a problem.
    Raspberry Pi Imager will work, you just need to choose “custom OS” in the OS selection menu.
  • LineageOS for Raspberry Pi 4 or LineageOS for Raspberry Pi 3.
    Download it from the Konstakang website, and select the latest version available for your device:
  • NikGapps or OpenGapps.
    The alternative is to install Google Apps on a custom Android device.
    It looks like OpenGapps is no longer updating their packages (or at least they are always very late after a new Android release), so I now recommend using NikGapps instead.

    Click on the links, then “Download Now”.
    On SourceForge, go to “Releases” and open the latest folder.

    Download the version you want, the “Core” package is enough for a Raspberry Pi, the important part is Google Play Store.

I recommend copying the “NikGapps” or “OpenGapps” file to a USB key.
It’s easier than downloading it from the Android system. I’ll show you in the last part how to install them. Attention: make sure the USB key is formatted in FAT32. It won’t work with another file format.

Flash the SD card

Next, we need to prepare the SD card and as usual, I’m using Balena Etcher to do this:

  • Install Etcher if you haven’t already.
    I have a complete guide on how to use Etcher on Ubuntu here, but it’s very similar on other systems if you need more details.
    And if you are more familiar with Raspberry Pi Imager (link to my tutorial), you can use it too (choose Custom image in the OS list).
  • Start it, you’ll get something like this:
    etcher menu
  • On the left, pick the LineageOS image file from your Downloads directory.
    Then insert your SD card into your computer, and Etcher should select it automatically.

    And finally, click on “Flash!” to start the copy.

A few minutes later, your SD is ready and you can insert it into your Raspberry Pi.

Boot on LineageOS

Start your Raspberry Pi. The first boot will take a bit longer, as the system initialize the configuration in the background.

Depending on the version you downloaded, you may have a welcome wizard to adjust the settings.

Note: With the latest version, my display was not adjusted correctly. Use the keyboard arrows to reach the start button on the first screen. Almost all the following steps were working fine, just have to do the same thing once or twice after that.

Then, you’ll access directly the Android desktop.

Depending on your goal, you can start working with the basic apps (browser, file browse, etc.).
To access them, scroll up the bottom bar.

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But you’re probably not here to only use the email and browser apps, there is not much you can do with only the default apps. That’s why we’ll quickly move to the Google Play Store installation.

Android Configuration

Before going further, now is a good time to adjust the default configuration if needed. As there is no wizard anymore to guide you with the configuration, you can go to the “Settings” app if needed to configure your Internet connection, language, date/time, etc.

I’m using my Raspberry Pi 4 with the Ethernet cable plugged in, but it doesn’t work and I have no network. If you are in the same situation, start by configuring the Wi-Fi network. It will then synchronize with the time server and fix the date/time for you.

Installing Google Play Store on Android

This is always the most complex part of an Android installation, for any device or system. As we don’t use an official Android image and device, there are additional steps to enable Google Play Store. But Konstakang has made this simpler, and you’ll have everything your need on your device quickly.

Reboot in recovery mode

We’ll need to boot in recovery mode to install OpenGapps. To do this, we need to unlock access to this mode by enabling the advanced restart.

Here is how to do this:

  • Open the “Settings” app.
  • Go to “System” > “Advanced settings”.
  • Enable the first option “Reboot to recovery”:

    On some version, it’s under another submenu, search for “recovery” in the search engine if you can’t find it there.
  • Scroll down the notification bar and click on the power icon.
    Then click on Restart and then Reccovery:

    In theory, F5 should work to display this screen, but it doesn’t work anymore once the reboot to recovery is enabled.

Plug your USB key with OpenGapps on it, and wait a few seconds for the recovery mode to start.

The system will now reboot on recovery mode.

We can now move to the Google Apps installation.

Install Google Apps

Once in recovery mode, follow this procedure:

  • Click on “Mount”.
    This is where you can choose which partition to mount.
    We need to mount the USB key, so check the USB item in the list.
  • Then, back on the main menu, click on “Install”.
  • Click on “Select Storage” and choose the USB key.
  • Finally, your files appear.
    Click on the NikGapps or OpenGapps file to install it:

    Swipe to confirm, there is nothing else to change.
  • Don’t reboot after the installation, as it will come back to recovery mode.

If everything is OK, you can now restart in normal mode, choose “System” in the menu when you click on Reboot.

That’s it, your Raspberry Pi will now restart in normal mode.
Once on the Android desktop, you can see that Play Store is available in the apps.

Sign in to the Play Store

The last step is to sign in on Google Play, as you would for any Android device.
Open the Play Store app and try to sign in with your Google account:


You may get some error messages during this process, asking if you want to close or wait:



Keep choosing “Wait” until you manage to log in.

Once logged in, you can close the app and reboot the device. After the reboot, everything should be fine.

You can now install any app or game you want on your Raspberry Pi :).

Video

I have recorded the whole process in video simultaneously. You can watch it here if you want:

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Recommended stuff for Android on Raspberry Pi

  • Raspberry Pi 4: If you don’t have one yet, I highly recommend switching to the fastest Raspberry Pi model available. Android is still a bit slow on any other model.
  • SSD drive: If you want better performance, a Raspberry Pi and SSD card allows you to run systems really fast. My favorite model is this one. SSD drives are now really affordable, go for it! (USB adapter included).
  • Touch screen: Android is built to use on a tactile screen, this one is cheap and allows you to have a better experience with your new Android system.
  • RasPad 3: This has been my best experience so far. A “real” tablet with a battery and a touchscreen, it’s perfect to use with this Android build. Check the link for more details.

Related questions

Can you run AndroidTV on a Raspberry Pi?

Android TV only works on a Raspberry Pi 4, with a custom image of LineageOS from Konstakang. It can’t run on Raspberry Pi 3B+ and lower with this method.

If you have a Raspberry Pi 4 or 400, you can follow the same steps and pick AndroidTV instead of Android while downloading the image. The other steps are very similar (the interface is slightly different, but you’ll find your way thanks to the developer website).

I also have a video on this topic if needed:

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Conclusion

That’s it! We finally found a way to have Android working better than ever on Raspberry Pi. And it’s not very difficult to install, we don’t need any account (except Google), and it’s free.

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Patrick Fromaget

I'm the lead author and owner of RaspberryTips.com. My goal is to help you with your Raspberry Pi problems using detailed guides and tutorials. In real life, I'm a Linux system administrator with a web developer experience.

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