Are you thinking about buying an Android, but want to try out the smartphone's apps first? Or maybe you already have an Android phone and want to run your favourite apps on a larger PC monitor. BlueStacks App Player, now in alpha testing, lets you do both of these things on a Windows PC.
Once downloaded on a PC, an icon of the Android robot standing on the Windows logo appears on the top right-hand corner of the Windows desktop screen. A menu of over 10 default apps is displayed by placing the cursor on the Android icon and can be opened with one click. Once activated, you can also use the mouse and keyboard to interact with the Android applications on your PC.
Pulse, Talking Tom Cat 2 and Drag Racing are some of the apps available. Testing them on an Acer Aspire 5738 laptop with a 2.1 GHz Pentium Dual Core CPU and 8GB of memory running Windows 7, I experienced none of the bugs that one might expect with an alpha version of software.
You can click out of any Android app by clicking the "X" icon only once on the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. Open Windows programs that are running in the background can be accessed without closing BlueStacks App Player by pressing the Alt. and tab keys on the keyboard.
The main novelty of BlueStacks App Player is that it runs like any other application on Windows. You access BlueStacks and the apps running on it like you would an Internet browser, word processor or any other Windows application without slowing down your computer.
BlueStacks has thus managed to create a program that runs applications from a different operating system on Windows that does not require the installation of a separate OS or console. Since BlueStacks App Player runs on Windows, you do not have to boot into another operating system to run the apps on your PC.
Apps can be added to BlueStacks App Player by clicking on the BlueStacks Channels icon. There, dozens of other Android apps are listed and can be downloaded with your web browser by clicking the app icon.
BlueStacks also offers Cloud Connect, which allows you to transfer apps from an Android phone to a PC or tablet. This is done by first installing BlueStacks on your Android phone and then uploading apps to the cloud version of BlueStacks Cloud Connect for download on your PC or tablet. While not yet available with the alpha version, the final product will let you download apps from the Android Store.
One drawback is that BlueStacks App Player requires Windows 7 or Vista, at least 2GB memory and an Intel Core 2 Duo or more powerful processor. PCs that meet these requirements are hardly representative of all the different possible system configurations out there.
In my case, I would have preferred Windows XP and Linux as well, which are what most of my PCs run.
BlueStacks will launch a final version of BlueStacks App Player Pro in the near future for a yet-to-be announced price. However, the company states that a free version will remain available.
For those users with PCs or tablets that meet the Windows operating system and hardware requirements and who want to run Android apps on their PCs, the BlueStacks App Player is at least worth the free download.