How to install Android on a Raspberry Pi

Android is Google’s operating system that we all know from smartphones. However, this OS is also present in many other devices, such as sticks to turn any television into a Smart-TV. The Raspberry Pi has enough power to run this operating system, although it does not have official support for it. However, thanks to the community, it is possible to install this Google OS on the micro-computer. And, in addition, to do it in a very simple way. Let’s see how.

Reasons to install Android on the Raspberry Pi

If the Raspberry Pi is designed to run Linux operating systems, and we have a wide variety of systems for it, what can lead us to use this operating system on it?

One of the main reasons why we can choose to install Android is because of the excellent touch screen support. There are several projects that allow a touch screen to be placed on this device and to be able to use it, for example, as a pocket computer. However, support for standard Linux systems leaves a lot to be desired. Thanks to Android, we can control the Raspberry Pi with our fingers without a single problem.

Another reason that can lead to this is the possibility of install android apps and games on this device. In general, Android apps can only be installed on smartphones with this operating system. And all other devices are out of support. Thanks to the possibility of installing this system on the RPi, we can have these applications at hand whenever we want.

Finally, another very interesting reason is the possibility of mount our own TV-Box with Android. We can install this OS on the Raspberry Pi, a comfortable launcher, connect it to the television and use it as a multimedia center without having to buy any major device.

different projects

There are several projects that allow us to bring Android to the Raspberry Pi. One of the best known is emteria. This is one of the most complete projects that allow us to install Google’s operating system on the micro-computer. A very complete and up-to-date system that guarantees us operation that is almost as native as that of the operating system on a smartphone. Its main problem is that it is paid, and although its price is more than affordable, we already have to checkout.

Another very interesting project, especially for those who do not want to pay, is LineageOS. If we have ever been investigating within the world of roms, this is the best known. A free and open alternative to be able to install unofficial versions of Android on almost any smartphone. Of course, there are also those who have taken the opportunity to bring this ROM to the RPi. We can find up to LineageOS 18.1 (based on Android 11) for the Pi 3 and Pi 4. In addition, it has its variants based on Android TV in case we are looking to create our own TV-Box as we have explained.

There are also “almost official” projects, as is the case with Android Things. This project allows us to bring an almost original version of Android to the Raspberry Pi through a process that is not easy at all. It is more focused on application development and testing, but it can be one more option to have this OS on the device.

Lastly, we could not forget RaspAnd. Despite how neglected its website is, we can find excellent projects on it that will allow us to install this operating system on our beloved Raspberry. To do this, all we need is to choose the version we want according to the Raspi model we have, and that’s it. Of course, your license has a cost of 9 dollars. Little money for what it offers us, but it already forces us to checkout if we want to try it.

step by step process

Regardless of which version we choose, the process will be more or less the same. What we do need to do is make sure we meet the following requirements before we start:

  • Raspberry Pi 3 o superior.
  • A powerful power supply (3 amps if possible).
  • A high-quality memory card of at least 16 GB.
  • A touch screen (optional).
  • Mouse and keyboard if we do not use a touch screen.

In addition, we will also have to download a program with which we can record the image to the memory card. For example, we can use the familiar Raspberry Pi Imager, or bet on one of the classics: Whale Etcher.

And, with all of the above, we will download the project that we like the most from the previous options. From our point of view, the best options we can choose are, on the one hand, LineageOS, as a free option, and on the other RaspAnd, if we don’t mind paying 9 dollars.

In both cases, we will download a ZIP file. We must decompress this file to be able to extract its content, which will be a .IMG file, that is, an image of the memory card. And it is this file that we must record (not copy), to the micro-SD.

Etcher interfaz

We must select in this menu (in our case we have used BalenaEtcher) the IMG image that we are going to burn, followed by the unit (the memory card) where we are going to install the system. We must pay attention not to make mistakes, since the process formats the card, and if the unit is not correct we can lose the data.

If we prefer to use the Raspberry Pi Imager, the option that interests us is the following.

Raspberry Pi Imager - 3

When you record the image on memory card, we can now disconnect it, and insert it into the Raspberry Pi. The first time you start it, it will take a long time (several minutes) while it finishes the installation and prepares everything necessary to be able to work.

When finished, we can see the default Launcher of this system. We recommend rebooting a couple of times for the installation to sit properly, and you’re good to go.

Enjoy Android on the Raspberry Pi.

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