We first looked at BlueStacks' App Player late last year when it shipped as an alpha copy with a limited number of apps and a few quirks here and there. Today, the company is releasing a beta copy of App Player, which includes access to thousands of Android apps from a Windows desktop. BlueStacks has teamed up with GetJar, 1Mobile, and Amazon to let users download Android apps from an easy-to-use PC application.
We have been playing around with a beta copy of the software for the past few days and managed to get apps like Evernote, Facebook, WhatsApp, and even Angry Birds Space running on our Windows 7 PC. The latest beta copy is a lot more polished than the previous alpha, and introduces a Cloud Connect App to allow Android phones to sync apps to the App Player. There is a popular download section, quick search functionality, and accelerometer support (thanks to the keyboard arrow keys). We didn't manage to find and install any paid Android apps, but free apps simply downloaded and were available immediately in the My Apps launcher.
BlueStacks says its App Player will bring 450,000 Android apps to PCs, and although we weren't able to test every single one — the apps we tried worked without too many issues. There was some occasional lag on some of the gaming tiles, like Angry Birds Space and Draw Something, but the new beta is a lot more functional than the alpha copy released last year. Beta 1 has also added the company's patent-pending "Layercake" technology, which allows apps that use hardware graphics acceleration to run on x86-based PCs.
Although you can run Android apps on a PC via Google's SDK, BlueStacks believes the easy approach has the potential to disrupt apps on the PC ecosystem, especially with Windows 8 support in the pipeline. Rovio is selling Angry Birds Space for $5.95 on PC, but it's free on BlueStacks' App Player — something that may upset some app developers. Whether or not Windows users want to run Android apps on a PC remains to be seen, but with the lure of mobile games like Draw Something and the recently released Temple Run (that aren't available on Windows) — it's conceivable that a lot more Windows users will be interested now you can run your favorite apps. The app is available free today for Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 users.