The mobile app ecosystem has changed many traditional aspects of the desktop PC. The concept of downloading an app or game for very little cost is a far cry from the culture of big budget releases where even a simple platform game could cost twenty times that of Cut The Rope or Grand Theft Auto III. Even with a reduction in the amount that can be charged for applications, quality has not diminished and there is a real demand for good, cheap applications on tap from your desktop PC.
BlueStacks has created an Android emulator for Windows based computers, and their platform has gained traction with big players such as Asus who plan to implement it in forthcoming devices that will boot Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system. Currently in a beta testing phase, BlueStacks has their own app store but also links with GetJar, Google Play and Amazon.
It takes a little getting used to as BlueStacks essentially creates an Android phone on your desktop, complete with swipe down notification bar and menu button. Each app can be launched from a home screen which also provides links to other apps and suggestions on the right hand side of the screen. I did notice that actually picking the correct download apps store is a bit of luck – typing in Angry Birds could mean you end up downloading from any of the app stores available. Whether this is down to a bug in the the way the emulator translates your mouse clicks I am not sure, but it s a little hit or miss.
The emulator works well, but blowing up apps onto a larger screen of a PC or laptop has obvious downsides. The apparent benefits of an app like Pocket fall by the wayside on Bluestacks (and you are better off using the web based equivalents in that case). Graphics are sometimes enlarged and that gives everything a smudged look when you expand the window to full screen. However, some recent titles such as Angry Birds Space look great. But if you are desperate it is a good way of getting a quick fix on Windows.