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BlueStacks Android emulator lets you use apps on your PC

by Phil Hornshaw

A new Windows PC program has just hit beta testing that allows Android users to fire up apps on their computers, even the ones they’ve already purchased for smartphones or tablets.

The new program comes from software developer BlueStacks, according to a story from PC World, and is actually available (for free) right now. Aptly named Android Player, it works on Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP and can operate using apps downloaded from Google Play, GetJar, 1Mobile Market and the Amazon Appstore. In fact, according to BlueStacks, users should be able to use on their PCs as many as 450,000 different Android apps.

This isn’t the first app emulator to pop up for PC users, but BlueStacks has a leg up on other similar programs for Android and iOS with its new “Layercake” technology. The new software allows apps built to use things like the Unity Engine, ARM hardware or hardware accelerators like the Tegra 2 in tablets and smartphones to adapt to the technology of PCs, using things like AMD processors. The result, basically, is that apps work like they should on PC, and aren’t hamstrung by hardware incompatibilities.

Moving Android apps, specifically games, to other platforms hasn’t exactly been a quick and easy process. Mobile apps translate pretty well between mobile platforms. iOS games and Android games frequently cross-pollinate each other’s ecosystems, and many of those same games are jumping the gap over to Windows Phone territory as well. But fewer titles have adapted from mobile to other platforms. Most of the time, it’s PC games that are ported to the mobile space, and those games generally have to be rebuilt from the ground up. The same is true with bringing Angry Birds to PlayStation 3, for example.

That BlueStacks opens up the door for almost half a million apps to be useable on PCs makes it a pretty big deal, and it should even make it possible to send access Android apps on upcoming Windows 8 tablets. Better still, it’s available right now: you can download it from BlueStacks’ website right here. You can also pick up the Bluestacks Cloud Connect app, which will allow you to send things like push notifications and text messages from your Android devices to your PC, as well as the apps found on your smartphone or tablet.

Appolicious published an interview with BlueStacks CEO Rosen Sharma last June.