BlueStacks Lets You Play Android Apps on Windows

BlueStacks homepage screenshot

Anyone that's owned netbook will probably agree that it's a fine notebook but has never really been quite the device they thought it would be. The screen is too small to properly run most Windows apps, websites are often pretty cluttered and ugly on it, and it doesn't run mobile apps. You may not want to install Android, because it doesn't really run well on netbooks. Wouldn't it be nifty if you could use it to run Android apps while still keeping Windows on it? It turns out BlueStacks is a product designed to do exactly that. 

screenshot - BlueStacks starting up on Windows 10

Of course, there's another major selling point for running Android apps on Windows, games. BlueStacks lets you run your favorite mobile games with significantly more power than any mobile device has to offer.

We spoke with John Garguilo, VP of Marketing for BlueStacks to find out more about this exciting product.

Exploring BlueStacks

BlueStacks offers what they call an "app player" for Windows. What this basically means is that they have a cloud-syncing virtual machine that will play Android apps in full-screen glory on a Windows computer. This means you could play full-screen games like Fruit Ninja, use news readers like Pulse, and take advantage of easier to use mobile interfaces for apps like Evernote. You could breath new life into a Windows tablet, laptop, or netbook.

screenshot - BlueStacks engine and processor settings

There are some caveats. You still need a fairly fast processor. Mr Garguilo indicated that an Atom processor was probably not adequate for graphics intensive games, and he recommended something more along the i5 line. Considering that many Android phones are now sporting dual and quad-core processors, this isn't surprising news. If apps need more power to run on Android, they're going to need more power to run in a virtualization program on another platform. 

Apps With Mobile Features

We asked what happened to mobile features, such as games that used the accelerometer or multi-touch gestures. He assured us that most apps (he estimated about 85%) don't use those features, and most of them would be unappealing as Windows apps. That seems to be a bit of a dodge, but he's right. Most apps don't actually use multi-touch or other features, so if you find Angry Birds to be appealing on the Web, you shouldn't run into problems. However, I expect some unexpected problems to crop up as the app goes into wider release.

Mobile Gaming on PC

Recently, BlueStacks has switched its primary focus to mobile gaming, and it makes sense. Mobile gaming is insanely popular, and gamers are always looking for an edge over the competition.

screenshot - BlueStacks display settings

BlueStacks offers built-in performance controls to increase the available power that it can pump into your games. Control your screen resolution, refresh rate, and the graphics libraries being used. With BlueStacks, you're using your high-end gaming graphics card to play Android games. Doesn't seem too fair, does it? You can also control the amount of memory and CPU cores to put behind your games, adding even more grunt to your "Android" gaming machine.

Finally, BlueStacks integrates Twitch for extra simple streaming. So, while you're absolutely dominating on your super powered "mobile" gaming platform, you and show the world in real time.

Pricing

BlueStacks is entirely free to download and use. You won't find any troublesome restrictions either. Everything is ad-supported, so you will see ads in your BlueStacks interface, but you won't run into any walls keeping you from your favorite mobile games.

screenshot - BlueStacks download page

If you want to get rid of the ads, you can upgrade to the Premium version of BlueStacks. Aside from the ads, there are a few other benefits, but nothing super significant, if you don't feel like paying.

Mac and Other Platforms

BlueStacks currently fully supports your Mac. You can easily download the official BlueStacks Mac client just as easily as you can the Windows one on the company's website.

There's currently no talk of Linux or iOS support, but there are alternatives for Linux like Anbox and Genymotion.

Developers

Although this wasn't a direction they were pushing, BlueStacks could work out to be a regular part of any Android Developer's toolbox. The Android emulator Google developed is pretty lousy. This is something even Google acknowledged, so if BlueStacks turns out to be a better emulator, the BlueStacks team should be expecting hugs and kisses from Android developers everywhere.