While Google has been slowly working on bringing Android apps to Chrome OS, another company has had those apps up and running on the desktop for several years now. That company, BlueStacks, is today launching the second version of its Android emulator for Windows, adding in the ability to run multiple apps at the same time.
BlueStacks says it's been downloaded over 100 million times
BlueStacks 2 is basically the same product as its predecessor. It's ugly and sometimes awkward to use — I don't have a touchscreen PC, so I had to navigate Android with a mouse — but apps ran surprisingly well in my limited testing. This new version adds a tabbed interface, allowing you to hold multiple apps in the same window; it could previously only run a single app at a time. The update also adds a toolbar that lets you quickly tell the emulator to simulate rotating the screen or to perform other functions, like copying and pasting.
Alongside today's update, BlueStacks is also announcing a new milestone: it's hit 109 million downloads. That's a big number, although it's worth keeping in mind that downloads don't translate directly into recurring users. BlueStacks declined to provide specific information on its active user count, simply saying that it was "healthy." (If you see anyone claiming that BlueStacks' emulator is more widely used than Android devices by some top phone manufacturers, don't believe it.)
BlueStacks' emulator has been around since 2011, primarily sustaining itself off of revenue from developers who pay for placement within its app store (though it also offers access to the Google Play Store). BlueStacks 2 remains free to download and will be available today on Windows. A launch on the Mac will come later.