The gulf between mobile and desktop computing continues to shrink, with more and more powerful mobile devices running pretty beefy apps and games. As programs for mobile devices get more sophisticated, it’s understandable that some users may want to bring those apps to bigger screens. You could buy an Android-powered console, which packs hardware that becomes obsolete almost moments after you’ve plugged it in—or you could download BlueStacks for PC or Mac.
BlueStacks is an Android emulator that can sync up with your Google account, giving you access to all of the apps you’ve purchased from the Play Store. BlueStacks also has an Android app of its own that allows you to sync up your Android smartphone with the desktop computer onto which you’ve installed BlueStacks.
Once your apps are loaded up, the program works just like an Android device, with Back, Home, and Recent Apps buttons, not to mention notifications and settings options. For some games, BlueStacks will also assign keyboard shortcuts if controls are touch or tilt-based.
But BlueStacks isn’t quite perfect—it’s actually still in beta, so there are a few hiccups that you might have to navigate. Some more demanding games might not run well in terms of framerate—or, if you’re trying it on an underpowered Windows 8 tablet, for instance, it may not work right at all. That said, the promise of BlueStacks is significant enough that you should definitely give it a try—especially if you’d rather use a mouse for precision aiming in Angry Birds.
- Full Android functionality lets you recreate whatever app or game you want pretty faithfully on your PC or Mac.
- Great syncing options let you get your apps without having to deal with actual APK files or manual installation trickery.
- Auto-maps some controls to the keyboard and mouse to provide a more seamless gaming experience.
- Great tool for Android developers to quickly test apps and find bugs.