Android apps now playable on Windows PCs
BlueStacks' software unleashed
Bluestacks has released an alpha-test version of software which allows Android apps to be run on Windows machines.
The start-up spoke with El Reg earlier this year about its eponymous product and how it works. Well, now you can try it for yourselves.
The 117MB file creates a little widget on the desktop. When launched, it offers a list of available apps. As it stands there is no Android Market support, although Bluestacks has its own Apps Channel with a small selection of utilities and games.
The company has also released an app called Cloud Connect. It can be downloaded from the Android Market and lets users send apps from their handsets to a PC, thus opening doors for any Android software to run on the Windows platform.
The alpha-version of BlueStacks App Player for Windows PC is available free. Let us know how you get on. ®
It's good, in parts
It installed first time with no problems on my Windows 7 laptop. It appears as an enormous Gadget on your screen. To 'subscribe' to apps, you need to log in to the Bluestacks site using a Facebook identity; during which you have to give Bluestacks permission to see all your Facebook info (including your friends) and also give it the ability to make post on your behalf (that's what it read like). I was willing to do this since my Facebook account was set up just to see what it was about.
Then, with the Bluestacks Cloud Connect app, from the Android market, on my Vega tablet (not my phone, I'm not that trusting), you can choose which of your installed Android apps to sync over to your PC. To do this, you need to enter a PIN than is provided to you on the Bluestacks website after you've signed in via Facebook.
Syncing over an Android app takes time, maybe a couple of minutes before it appears as an icon on your PC, so be patient. I synced over the RealCalc app, so I had a giant scientific calculator running on my laptop..... cool.
Android calendar apps will transfer over and run but (in my case) do not show any events, claiming that no calendars are selected. I assume this is because they expect to read that information from the phone/tablet itself and cannot do this when running on your PC.
In fact, for any Google calendar/maps/docs/mail/reader, etc application, you'd be better using the PC browser in the first place. (I don't have games and am not interested in them so someone else can comment on those.)
Where Bluestacks is useful is for Android apps that need lots of typing. For this, I synced over ColorNote and PostEver. These work fine at fullscreen and I could create and edit ColorNote notes with full functionality but using a proper keyboard on a PC. These were then available on my Vega tablet and my Wildfire phone after a manual sync at both ends. This is useful if you want to do lots of in-app typing. You use mouse click/drag control as you would use your finger on a touch screen.
Apart from apps that benefit from use of a big screen and a real keyboard, I can't think of anything that would benefit from this in a big way (except for games maybe).
As far as I can tell, you need to be logged into Bluestacks on their website and on your Android device (entering the PIN) for it all to work. Even then, it took about a minute or more for functionality to become available. If you decide that an Android app is not suitable for this treatment, it takes a while for it to be removed from the PC based app menu after you tell the website to 'Unsubscribe' you from the app. I've often found myself thinking that the entire thing had stopped working, but I just had to be patient and give it time to sort itsefl out. It may be that you need to leave it logged in all the time instead of firing it up when you want to use it.
On the Android tablet Bluestacks Cloud Connect app, it's easy enough to select any of your Android apps for connection and syncing, but I can't 'unconnect' those apps that I've decided are unsuitable for the task.
It's impressive that they've managed to do all this and any app that may need lots of typing and would benfit from a big screen is a good candidate for trying with this. Apart from the Facebook login thing and the clunky slowness to get going, I was happy with it.
I can't believe they managed the enormous complexity of getting some Java code to run on a Windows environment.
Never mind then.