install android on raspberry pi

How to finally Install Android on your Raspberry Pi? [Complete Guide]

Android on Raspberry Pi is a long story, Google doesn’t support Raspberry Pi for its mobile system
I’m trying to install it for a long time, but never succeed
A lot of tutorials are giving old images that doesn’t work on my Raspberry Pi 3B+
But I finally found the solution and I’ll share it with you today

How to install Android on your Raspberry Pi?
As Google doesn’t support Raspberry Pi for Android, you can’t find any official release
The only way that is working on Raspberry Pi 3B+ is to use a third party: Emteria
Emteria allows you to download an Android image, Raspberry Pi compatible, for free

In this tutorial, I’ll explain you what is Emteria, how to download the image and how to install Android step by step
Then I’ll give you some extra tips on what you can do with Android on your Raspberry Pi

Emteria presentation

Let’s start by explaining you what is Emteria and why you can trust it

What is Emteria?

emteria company logo Emteria is a young company from Germany
Since 2017 they build Android releases for industrial applications and products

Their target is mainly companies with specific needs about Android
They offer a reliable operating system with a long-term support for their products
They have an OS compatible with all Raspberry Pi versions (including the compute module) and they offer a development service to build an image for your specific devices

But what is interesting us is that they offer a free evaluation of Android for personal users: emteria.OS
The free evaluation has no time limitation, but the OS will reboot after 8 hours
You also have less advanced features and no support, but we don’t need this

If you want to get more features and stop the reboot, you have to pay €19 per device for a Personal license

Android with Emteria

With Emteria, you’ll get a custom version of Android
At the time I wrote these lines, it’s based on Android Nougat (7.1.2)

emteria android raspberry pi desktop

The default desktop with Emteria.OS on Raspberry Pi

In terms of apps, you don’t have the Google Play Store natively (but I’ll show you how to install it)
In a fresh install you have basic apps like a browser, email client, calendar, music and camera
You also have an app called F-Droid, which is a catalog of open source apps (a sort of Play Store with unknown apps ^^)

How does it work?

To use Emteria Android, you need to create an account on their website
I’ll show you all the details in the next part, but the process is straightforward
You give them an email address, sign in, and download a software: the installer

The installer is available for any operating system and allows you to download Android and create the SD card
As Emteria is a company, there is no image you can download, you do everything with the installer

Once the SD card is ready, you can insert it into your Raspberry Pi and get Android running

Android installation on Raspberry Pi

Let’s move to the installation process of Android on your Raspberry Pi

Sign up on Emteria.OS

The first thing to do is to create an account on the Emteria website

  • Go to the Emteria official website
  • Click on Pricing in the top menu
  • You get a pricing table with three versions: Evaluation, Personal and Business
    We’ll install the Evaluation version
  • Move to the bottom of the Evaluation column and click on “Free download”
    A pop-up opens asking for an email addresscreate account on emteria
    Enter your email address and click on “Register”
  • You’ll get an email with a link to complete the account creation
  • Fill the form with your personal data
    emteria signup form
  • Submit the form and that’s it, you now have access to your account

Download the installer

  • Once you have access to your account, you need to download the installer
    Use the top menu and click on Downloads
    emteria menu
  • You’ll get a list of installer versions for Emteria.OS
    Take the one corresponding to your computer operating system
    Take the latest version (first one of the list), I don’t know why they let three versions for each system
  • Install the installer on your computer
    It all depends on your operating system, you probably know how to do this 🙂

Flash the SD card

The installer allows you to create the SD card
As there is no image available to download, you have to do everything with this tool

  • Insert your SD card in your computer
  • Start the installer (On Windows: Start menu > Emteria Installer)
    A terminal console may start at the same time, keep it open, it’s useful to see the logs
  • Then you need to login on the installer
  • Choose your device in the list and the version you want to install
    emteria select device
    Personally, I had issues with the Google Play Store by taking the latest Emteria OS version
    Everything was fine with the version 0.5.20, but I don’t know exactly where the issue starts
  • Click on continue and select your SD card (probably only one here)
  • Finally, the installation process starts
    The tool will download all the needed files and then copy them on the SD card
    emteria sd card creation
  • At the end of this process, the SD card is ready
    Eject it by using the Safely Remover tool on your operating system to prevent any data loss

First boot

Finally, we can use the Raspberry Pi 🙂
Insert the SD card in your Raspberry Pi and follow this procedure:

  • Start the Raspberry Pi
  • You’ll see the Emteria logo during the boot process
    boot emteria
    It can take a few minutes while the Emteria OS finishs the installation process
  • Then, you’ll get an installation wizard and you have some information to give
    • Click “Next” to start the wizard
    • Choose your language in the list
    • Adjust the date & time settings if needed
    • Set the wireless connection if you don’t have ethernet available
      • Turn the WiFi On
      • Choose your network in the list
      • Enter the password
    • Click on “Next” and it will ask your for a Device Activation
      As we are using the Evaluation version, we don’t have any license to use
      But if you bought the Personal version, you need to login in this form
      Click “Next” to continue
    • Accept the license agreement and reboot the system

The Raspberry Pi will now reboot, and after a few seconds, you’ll get the Android Desktop on your screen

How to use Google Play Store?

What’s Google Play Store?

Google Play store is the App Store from Android
In this app you’ll have access to the same apps as on your phone

As you probably noticed, on Emteria you only have the F-Droid app to install other apps
But all of them are unknown, you may find good apps, but it’s not the same repository as Android on your phone

So just after the Emteria installation, you need to install something to enable the Google Play Store on your Raspberry Pi
That’s what I’ll show you in the next paragraph

How to install Google Play Store on Emteria OS?

There are several ways to get Google Play Store on Emteria
The one I chose is to use Open Gapps from this website

The Open Gapps project is an open-source solution to install Google Apps on custom Android devices
It supports any device and android version so we are fine with our Raspberry Pi
And the installation process is rather easy as I’ll show you in the next paragraph

Install the Open Gapps app

To install Open Gapps on Emteria, you have two choices:

  • Download the image from the website home page and try to install it in the recovery mode
  • Or easier, install the app from Open Gapps and then do everything in the app

Obviously, I took the second choice, which is simpler to follow
Here are the few steps to follow to get the apps on your Raspberry Pi with Emteria:

  • In Emteria, start the web browser
  • Enter the website address in the URL: https://opengapps.org
  • Press enter to go to the website
    If like me you have issues with the keyboard to valid the URL, just search for opengapps in Google
  • Open the navigation menu in the top left corner
  • Then click on Download the app
    Here is the URL if you need it: https://opengapps.org/app/
  • In the new page, click on the “Download” link
    download gapps
  • A file download starts on android, you can follow it by swiping the top of the screen
  • At the end of the download click on the notification to open the file
  • A pop-up window will ask you to install the app

install gapps

At the end of the installation you’ll get a few questions to configure the app
You need to give it all the permissions asked

The next steps are to choose the Open Gapps version you want on Emteria

You need to select:

  • Architecture: ARM (auto selected)
  • Android version: 7.1 (or the auto selected one if  you have a more recent version)
  • Gapps version: pico
    Each gapps version contains a different set of  Google applications
    For the Raspberry Pi you can’t choose another one if you don’t want to get extreme lags
    The pico version only contains the Google Play Store and it’s the only thing we need for the moment

Now that the app is ready, we can move to the Gapps installation part

Download & Install Gapps

Finally, you need to download the Gapps image from the Open Gapps app
gapps download

Click on the red Download link
The download starts and you need to wait a few minutes (depending on your Internet connection speed)

At the end of the download, you’ll get something like this in the same window:

install gapps on raspberry pi

Click on the red Install link
Confirm the installation in the pop-up
Your Raspberry Pi will reboot into recovery mode to install the package

The installation is automatic. You have nothing to do
gapps install recovery mode

Once the installation is done, the system will reboot into the normal system mode

First boot

Now the boring part is starting 🙂
On the first boot, you can see the Google Play Store app in the apps menu
But as soon as you open something you’ll get the “System optimization in progress, please wait …”

And the message above is not very encouraging:
“Please note that the system may be very slow until the optimization process finishes.
Multiple reboots may be required before all components are ready

And unfortunately the message is right
It took at least 30 minutes to complete and you have to do it several times until it works correctly

Be patient
Reboot the Raspberry Pi manually if it doesn’t respond for a long time
And wait for this annoying message to stop appearing each time you try something 🙂

Extra tips for Android on Raspberry Pi

Update your system

If like me you took an older version of Emteria to get Google Apps working, you can now update your system (you need a Personal license to update it)
While using your new Android device, you’ll get an update notification at the top of the screen

Click on it and follow the instructions to install it
It’s not mandatory, if you don’t have any license or want to keep it like this, you can

Use the Raspberry Pi camera

If you have a camera module for your Raspberry Pi, you can use it directly

I did the test for you
If you plug your camera before the system boot, you can use it in the Camera app
I took several photos and it was working well
But for the video the app, it kept crashing each time I tried, so it’s probably not possible to use it with the default app

Let me know in the comments if you find an app compatible with the video

Starting with Google Play Store

After all this boring message about the system optimization, I’m sure you want to try to Google Play Store app 🙂

To do this, go to the apps menu and click on “Play store”
Enter your Gmail account credentials and wait a few seconds

On my first try, I got a crash, but don’t worry
After a new reboot I could accept the agreement and access the Play Store catalog
It can be a little slow the first time, but be patient, again …

play store working on raspbery pi

Congrats! That’s what you get after fighting for two hours against Android 🙂
You can now enjoy the rewards: all the apps available on your Raspberry Pi

Android usage ideas

If you’re reading these lines, you probably already know what you want to do with Android on your Raspberry Pi
But anyway, here are some ideas you can try:

  • Smart TV: You can use Android on your TV to watch movies with streaming providers or even local files
    I rather recommend using OSMC with Kodi to do this, but it can work
    Check my guide about Kodi on Raspberry Pi if you don’t know
  • Cheap tablet: You can add a screen on your Raspberry Pi and turn it into a custom tablet
    For example, with a 7″ touch screen (check this one on Amazon), you can build an home made tablet for a low budget
    In this case I recommend you to take a Personal license for Emteria, to avoid reboots and pop-ups
  • Frame: Within a case, you can use it to display photos, presentations or anything else continuously
    For example, this case allows you to put your Raspberry Pi on your desk or in a bookshelf to display anything you want

Before checking what kind of apps you can download for your Raspberry Pi on Android, I wanted to show you some examples of what you can do with it
Let’s see the available apps now

Apps recommendations

After so much effort to install the Play Store, I understand that you want to install new apps on your Raspberry Pi
If you are not familiar with Android, here are a few apps you can try:

  • Movie streaming providers: Either using the search or by going to Home > Categories > Entertainment, you’ll see that all movie providers are available in the Play Store
    Whatever your favorite choice, you can install YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Video, Twitch or any other big media services from here
    If you want to watch your own movie files, VLC is available
  • Music players: Same thing if you prefer to listen to music
    In the music & audio category you’ll find Spotify or Amazon Music
    And you can also use an app like AIMP to enjoy local music files
  • Photo frame: For a photo slideshow I think that Pixgram or Dayframe can do this
    You can also use Microsoft Powerpoint to display a mix of text, graphs and photos for professional slideshows
  • Classic Apps: You can also install basic apps that are not available by default, like Google Chrome (the default browser sucks, so it’s a good idea I think), Google Maps or anything else you want

Send files to your Android system

In the previous paragraph, I talked about offline files that you can view in a lot of Android apps
But how to transfer files to the Android device?

To what I know, you have at least two options to do this:

  • Use an USB stick: You can format an empty USB key in FAT32, put files on it and use it on your Android device
    Either directly from the USB storage (you’ll have a message in the notification panel) or by copying files to the SD card (you have a copy/paste option in the file explorer)
  • Use Internet: As you have an internet access, you can put files on a website and download them later
    You can also use apps like Dropbox to share files on your Raspberry Pi

I also try to put files directly on the SD card from Windows, but it’s not working, Windows doesn’t detect correctly the partitions
Maybe on Linux it can be a third option

Related Questions

Can I access the Raspberry Pi from a remote computer? Yes, and it’s probably another way to transfer files to it. You can download and install apps like VNC or Teamviewer to take control of the Android device from anywhere. On the latest Emteria version, I see that VNC is built-in in the settings, you just need to enable it

Can I use GPS, Phone, NFC or any other accessory on my Raspberry Pi with Emteria?  I didn’t try all of this, but it seems that it’s possible with some specific hardware. You can check this knowledge database page from the official Emteria website to get information about this. You can also ask your questions in the discussion forum for additional advises. Because for example, I’m using a camera not listed in the supported devices and it’s working fine.

Conclusion

That’s it, you now know how to install Android on your Raspberry Pi and how to make it work

The Android OS on Raspberry Pi is a great way to get everything you want on it, as most of the top web services are available in the Google Play Store (Netflix, YouTube, Microsoft Office, …)
It’s also a simple way to manage a tablet or frame project, by using a touch-sensitive OS by nature
But the Raspberry Pi is a little laggy with it and the “Optimization dead screen” is annoying too.
So I’m not sure it’s the best system for Raspberry Pi

If you want to try other operating systems on your Raspberry Pi don’t forget to check my guide on the best Linux distribution for the Raspberry Pi
And as usual, let me know what kind of project you plan to do after this tutorial

 

 

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