Bluestacks emulator runs Android apps on Windows PCs

The software can run the latest Angry Bird Android application on a Windows laptop

Software company Bluestacks is trying to close the gap between Microsoft's Windows and Google's Android OS with its App Player application, which was released in beta today.

App Player is an emulator that allows Android applications to run on Windows 7, Vista, and XP OSes. Users can install the software in Windows and then run about 450,000 Android applications, including Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja, the company said.

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Beyond PCs, the App Player could also allow Windows tablets such as Hewlett-Packard's Slate 2 and Dell's Latitude ST to run Android applications. Bluestacks made headlines at last year's Computex trade show in Taipei when Advanced Micro Devices showed off an x86 tablet with Android running on top of the Windows 7 software stack. Android applications are mostly written for the ARM instruction set, but the x86 tablet was able to switch between Android and Windows without any problems.

The emulator has new Layercake technology, which exploits hardware accelerators to improve the performance of Android games in Windows. The layer was not included in the Bluestacks alpha version. Android applications typically use hardware accelerators found in ARM's Mali, Nvidia's Tegra, and Imagination Technologies' PowerVR graphics cores, but Layercake can take advantage of hardware accelerators found in x86 chips from companies like AMD.

The Bluestacks app is 3.6MB and can be downloaded from the company's website. The software installed without any issues on Windows XP, and on start provided the option to download software from Google's Android application market. Angry Bird Space, the latest iteration of the game, was released last week and ran on the PC through Bluestacks. However, resizing the window to full-screen mode required restarting the Angry Birds application.

The software also offered the option to sync apps and contacts with an Android device.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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