Every once in a while I come across an Android app that I'd really love to have on my computer.
Even though the format might be more geared towards a mobile device, sometimes the presentation or functionality of a particular app would be welcome on a desktop.
While there are ways to do this -- emulators and the like -- the performance of some of the apps suffers to the point that they become unusable. Not only that, but you still have to navigate through the Android interface to access the app.
Enter BlueStacks, a program that makes it easy for you to download and install your favorite Android apps on your PC or Mac.
Simply install it, search for your favorite app, download and install it, and start using it.
BlueStacks also integrates with your computer by creating an apps folder that allows you to create shortcuts to the apps and put them on your desktop or start menu.
Many newer Android apps are designed to work with high-resolution tablet displays, so in most cases, the apps are perfectly usable, although unless you have a touch-screen PC, most users will be substituting a mouse pointer for their finger. BlueStacks also provides clickable buttons on the bottom of the screen that stand in for the softkeys found on most Android devices, and apps can be run full screen or windowed.
The suprising thing is that many graphically intense apps, such as games, seem to work well on BlueStacks.
Although it is currently in beta, it's quite polished and works very well.
From a technical standpoint, BlueStacks is still an emulator, but it doesn't force the user to jump through hoops or wait for an extended period of time before using the apps -- the apps can be accessed directly from the start menu or desktop, allowing for a more-or-less seamless experience.
One of the nicer features of BlueStacks is that it gives the user access to several app stores, including the Google Play Store. I haven't yet run into a situation where I was unable to find something that I was looking for, whether it be the Pulse reader, the Times Leader app or some random game.
Keep in mind this is a beta product, which means that it is still under active development and testing, so your experience might vary.
BlueStacks is free and can be downloaded for both Windows and Mac at www.bluestacks.com.
Nick DeLorenzo is director of interactive and new media for The Times Leader. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.