BlueStacks Beta Brings Android Apps to Your PC

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Jared Newman / TIME.com

If you’ve ever wished that your Android apps could follow you from phone to PC, BlueStacks has a way.

The BlueStacks software, which is now in beta, allows you to run Android apps on a Windows PC. It’s available as a free download from the BlueStacks website.

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As TechCrunch points out, the BlueStacks beta uses your PC’s graphics card to make apps like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja run smoothly. When it works, slicing virtual fruit into gushy shreds on a full-size PC monitor is as gratifying as it sounds. Outside of gaming, BlueStacks could be useful for news apps like Pulse or for simple photo editors like Pixlr-o-matic. BlueStacks can also run tablet versions of apps, when available.

In this beta release, however, getting apps to work is a crapshoot. Games that require multi-touch input, like Gun Bros., don’t work when there’s no hardware keyboard support, because you’ve only got one mouse cursor to work with. And when I tried Missile Command in Atari’s Greatest Hits, the game rotated into landscape mode even though the screen did not. I couldn’t get Age of Zombies to work at all.

I also had trouble syncing my Android Market apps to the PC. BlueStacks offers a phone app that’s supposed to do this automatically, but the sync operation failed every time. You can also access the Android Market through the PC software, but all my attempts to install apps this way failed as well. Fortunately, installing apps through the Amazon Appstore was a breeze. You can also get apps from GetJar or 1Mobile.

All these issues are somewhat expected in a beta release, and BlueStacks does have a list of suggested apps on its home screen to nudge users toward programs that work well. A master list of supported apps would save lots of time and frustration. For the finished product, app syncing will have to be flawless, or else average users will give up.

For now, if you’re an Android phone user with some apps to try and time to kill, BlueStacks is worth taking for a spin. Playing fun little smartphone games on a big screen is, at the very least, a neat trick.

(MORE: Google: Android Apps Have Tripled to Nearly Half a Million Since Last Year)

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