How-To: Run Android Apps on Your Windows and Mac Computers

Feb 13, 2013  Print Story

750,000 is a large number. It is not only the approximate land area of Mexico in sq mi., but also the total number of available Android apps. It is also the tagline of our product of the day—BlueStacks. BlueStacks is a unique application that can be downloaded to your Windows PC or your Apple Mac computer in order to run any of these 750,000 Android apps. Pretty cool, huh?

Yesterday, BlueStacks released its application to work with MS Surface Pro, which means the application has support for Windows 8 as well. This means, Android cannot boast having such a vast app ecosystem anymore.

It is a pretty big offering indeed. Being able to run any of those 750,000 Android apps is a really nice thing. So, we decided to give it a shot and see how BlueStacks works on a Windows computer.

1. Installing BlueStacks


You can download BlueStacks from here, depending on the operating system used. After getting the version, just install the file on your computer. I have installed BlueStacks on a Windows 7 Pro computer.

BlueStacks on Win 7 installation

BlueStacks on Win 7 installation 2

BlueStacks on Win 7 installation 3

BlueStacks on Win 7 installation 4

You should enable App store access and App notifications during the installation process, in order for BlueStacks to search on Google Play and other app stores. The important thing is through BlueStacks, you have access to other app stores like GetJar, 1Mobile and Amazon Appstore for Android.

On several forum posts in the BlueStacks support forum, there are issues reported by users running Windows 7 64-bit systems. We haven’t been able to reproduce any issues on my system though. The application installed perfectly and showed us its main window.

2. Associate Your Google Account


As soon as you have installed the application, you can associate your Google account with it. This is one of the primary steps in associating Google Play store to the app.

Linking Google account

Google Play store set up on Blue Stacks

Successful linking of Google account on BlueStacks

3. The Interface


On my 16-inch screen, BlueStacks looked quite like an enlarged tablet. It has the same user interface features of an Android device. It does have that pull-down menu from the top but there isn’t anything in it other than app notifications. In effect, you cannot use it as an Android emulator on Windows.

BlueStacks Main window

The home screen is a well-navigable page containing popular apps and a search function, using which you can search for apps from all of those app stores.

4. Installing Apps


When you search for a new app, it will display a window containing app recommendations.

App recommendations

From these recommendations, if you select an app and click ‘install’, it will in turn search within the app stores and will find the app.

searching for apps

Apps displayed from various app stores

If the app is not compatible, it will say so. Otherwise, you will be able to install the app and select automatic update if necessary.

Mozilla Firefox install

So, as you can see, I have downloaded and installed Firefox on BlueStacks to test the system. Let’s analyze how the app runs.

5. App Performance


After installing Firefox, the system tray notification area on Windows 7 showed the notification of the completed installation. I fired up Firefox and tried to browse a bit. It loaded our home page, albeit slowly.

Firefox displaying BlueBugle

Other apps that I tried also worked perfectly without any issues. I tried installing quite a few apps and tested them. Some of the apps include Evernote, Temple Run, the official Facebook app, etc. They all worked pretty well on BlueStacks.

Facebook Android app on BlueStacks

Temple Run 2

Evernote on BlueStacks

The downloaded app data are stored in BlueStacks special folder at "C:\ProgramData\BlueStacks\".

Conclusion


BlueStacks is an amazing application to run Android apps on your PC. It is, as I mentioned earlier, also available for your Macintosh computer. You should note that this is just an app player and not in anyway an Android simulator. It only creates an interface for our computer to be able to run Android apps, and it works pretty well. It can be used to take advantage of your favorite smartphone apps on your PC.

On Surface Pro, this is a very good improvement, as Surface Pro can perform like a notebook, and it runs Windows 8 full version as opposed to the ARM-version, Windows RT. With BlueStacks, Surface Pro will have the unique ability to run all of the applications available for desktop Windows and Android. Windows RT will have to use the fewer number of apps available in the Windows store as it cannot run BlueStacks.

 
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