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How to run Android apps on your Windows PC

A few years ago, I discovered an interesting company called BlueStacks that has an Android app player for Windows. And when I say I discovered it, I mean it moved into the office next to mine. Discovering the company was pretty easy.

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I had actually heard about BlueStacks from some of my OEM clients who were quite excited about what the company had shown them. So I met with the company and also became quite interested in its technology.

With BlueStacks' software, people can take apps from their Android mobile devices and send them via a piece of software downloaded on to their device called Cloud Connect directly to the BlueStacks player on a Windows PC.

When a user goes through this simple procedure, Android apps just show up in the BlueStacks Player on Windows. Like magic, they run on Windows as is, in full screen, with no performance degradation. That means software written for Android, such as Pulse and Flipboard, can now run on your Windows PC and be tied to the data layer of your Android version, too.

Run Android apps on your PC

Although BlueStacks has a "Get More Apps" section built into the player itself, most of the ones there now are just to demonstrate what can be done. In actuality, people will just download Android apps from the Android Marketplace or Amazon's Appstore for Android and then use Cloud Connect to transfer them to a Windows PC.

The program has a lot of new features and enhancements planned that would give the program even more functionality. To be honest, though, just having my Android apps on my PC is already a good reason to try it out. Not to mention, it's free.

Think about your use of your apps on your smartphone or tablet today. How many times have you thought, "I wish I had that same app on my PC?" The reason you may be saying that is because so many of the apps written for a smartphone or tablet are compact, concise, and deliver just the function you need at the time you need it.

For example, when travelling, I often use a currency converter. To get that same function on a PC, I have to go to a website and find that converter. Even if I bookmark it, it takes at least two or three more clicks to get the information I really want. On the other hand, on my Droid or iPhone, I just tap the currency converter app and I am ready to go.

Also, if you use apps like Pulse or Flipboard, which are designed for a tablet, having that same kind of app functionality on the PC is cool as well.

I find that there are some great note-taking apps for tablets and smartphones that I would like on my PC, like Evernote. While it has a web version, it also has versions for Android, iOS and Windows. Each is a dedicated app that can be launched for fast access and look and work the same on all devices.

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Now, in a perfect world, everyone who creates a smartphone app or a tablet app would also go the extra mile and create a dedicated app for the PC, as well. Well, we all know the world is not perfect. But Bluestacks' virtual program literally takes those Android smartphone or tablet apps and puts them on a PC so they can be used the same way.

Although HTML5 apps could deliver a similar approach to cross device apps, it simply flops on smaller screens.

The iOS solution

Interestingly, Apple has already seen the need for something like this, although its approach is a little different. It has apps for iOS and now it has apps directly for OSX through the Mac App store. However, at the moment, the apps on iOS and the apps in the Mac Store, at least in most cases, are not the same. It is only a matter of time before Apple pushes developers down a path in which both apps should look the same and work the same way, whether they are on the iPhone, iPad or the Mac.

To that end, BlueStacks actually gives the Android crowd that cross device functionality already and puts the Android and Windows crowd a step ahead of Apple. Soon most, if not all, of its iOS apps will look and work the same on the iPhone, iPad and Macs.

As for Microsoft, I'm uncertain if it even understands this concept. Given the fact that there are 1,000,000 plus Android apps already, racking up a total 25 billion downloads across 750 million Android devices worldwide, it may not matter, since BlueStacks makes all of those work out of the box today.

So, if you have an Android phone or tablet and a Windows PC, check out BlueStacks.