BlueStacks made quite a splash when they released their alpha x86 Android app player for Windows late last year. When AMD invested millions of dollars into the company, it was clear that they were planning on leveraging the ever-expanding Android platform to put a shot into the arm of their PC chip business. Nearly a year after the initial investment, they're ready to make good: head on over to www.amd.com/appzone to check out the shiny new AMD App Zone. Download your first app from a Windows-based PC to install the new version of the BlueStacks player (along with the app), no sign-in required.
All the features of the earlier BlueStacks versions are here, including the syncing function, which allows users to easily install all the apps that are already on your phone or tablet via the Cloud Connect app. AMD also says that the player has been optimized for its own hardware (though it works just fine on Intel machines as well). It certainly seems faster on my PC than it did a year ago, which was the only real problem I had with the service at the time.
Interestingly, the new version seems to be hooking directly into the Google Play Store. Most apps will download directly from Google's servers, and notification updates will take you straight to the familiar Play Store interface, complete with your Google account. The Amazon Appstore, GetJar and 1Mobile are also included, and BlueStacks' custom search app will look through all four of them if you use the built-in search function. Just to test the limits of the new version, I installed ye olde Launcher Pro, and whaddya know: there was the Google Play Store, plain as day, just like you'd see on a Gingerbread phone.
Basically, BlueStacks boils down to a very solid Android x86 emulator running 2.3 on your Windows PC. There's a thin layer on the top, with the navigation buttons adorning a ribbon on the bottom. From left to right, you've got Android's Back button, Menu button, "BlueStacks" button (which will work as a standard Home button if you install a new launcher), a combined screenshot+share button, and a link to some basic settings. A dynamically populated "Suggested Apps" ribbon goes all along the left side, and is unfortunately not removable.
Performance is a bit of a mixed bag. In standard apps it works well, though thanks to the Gingerbread codebase (the player seems to think it's a Samsung GT-i9100) there's no way to make tablet apps display properly. 2D sprite-based games play just fine, as do more basic 3D apps, but a few that I tried (like the newer Eternity Warriors 2) just wouldn't launch. All the featured apps on AMD's site should be OK. YouTube worked alright, so long as I disabled HD playback. Netflix was more of a slideshow than a player. Of course I was just poking around - there's no reason to use a lot of these apps on the PC - but I'm definitely thinking about using BlueStacks as a dedicated Gmail or Twitter (Plume) viewer. The nature of the player is a deal-breaker if an app needs tilt controls or camera access.
Not everything is smooth and polished, but as a free download, the updated BlueStacks is very impressive. With AMD making a push towards the lower end of PCs, and an arguably touch-friendly Windows 8 on the horizon, BlueStacks may find a lot of brand new users before the year is out. AMD is currently working with its hardware partners, and will probably be bundling the AppZone Player with new laptops and desktops soon.
BlueStacks Powers AMD AppZone Player to bring 500000 apps to >100million Windows Based PCs
BlueStacks Enables New Mobile-like Revenue Models for AMD’s PC OEM Customers
Campbell, California, September 27, 2012.
BlueStacks today announced a collaboration with AMD (NYSE: AMD) to launch AMD AppZone, the largest collection of Android apps which can be run on PCs. Powered by BlueStacks, the AMD AppZone Player brings hundreds of thousands of Android apps to the next generation of Windows 8 based slates, laptops, tablets and AiO desktop PCs. AMD AppZone is also available for AMD’s massive global installed base of Windows 7 based PCs. The collaboration with BlueStacks with optimizations for AMD GPU and APU technology enables a superior experience through AppZone on AMD powered PCs relative to other app stores like AppUp.
Starting today, consumers can directly access the AMD AppZone through their online website at www.amd.com/appzone and browse through the featured apps that are free to download. AMD and BlueStacks are also working with leading PC manufacturers to preload AppZone and popular Android apps on new PCs. The apps are available in multiple languages including English, German, Korean, Chinese Simplified and Traditional, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, across all categories like games, social, news, shopping, music, business and education.
“AMD and BlueStacks are allowing the emerging Android market to become part of the broader PC ecosystem with the introduction of AMD AppZone,” said Manju Hegde, corporate vice president, Heterogeneous Applications and Developer Solutions at AMD. “With the new Windows 8 operating system just around the corner, we’re excited to enable exciting new solutions for our PC customers and end users to experience.”
“App stores and apps represent a multi-billion dollar opportunity. BlueStacks powered business models are ready to disrupt the PC industry by leveraging the unprecedented growth in the mobile eco-system”, said Rosen Sharma, CEO of BlueStacks. “By collaborating with AMD,we are able to bring 500,000 apps to Windows 8 ecosystem and the broader installed base of PCs. That’s significantly more apps than any existing PC app store including Intel AppUp or the Windows 8 App Store.”Renowned PC analyst Tim Bajarin added, “This is the right move and a winning proposition for BlueStacks, AMD and for the entire PC ecosystem. Everyone is eagerly anticipating Windows 8, but consumers want a broad selection of familiar apps now. AMD and BlueStacks have addressed that in a big way.”
Download free Android apps from AMD AppZone (www.amd.com/appzone)L
earn more about AppZone for PC OEMs (www.bluestacks.com/amdappzone)
Follow BlueStacks on Twitter at @bluestacksinc
Follow AMD updates on Twitter at @AMDSoftware
Learn more about AMD Accelerated Processing Units (APUs)
BlueStacks is a software company that enables Android apps to run on Notebooks, Desktops, All-in-One PCs, Slates and Tablets. BlueStacks was founded in 2009 by Rosen Sharma, is privately held and headquartered in Silicon Valley with global offices in India, Taiwan and Japan. For more information visit http://www.bluestacks.com/, or join their over 1,000,000 Facebook fans at www.facebook.com/bluestacksinc
AMD (NYSE: AMD) is a semiconductor design innovator leading the next era of vivid digital experiences with its groundbreaking AMD Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) that power a wide range of computing devices. AMD's server computing products are focused on driving industry-leading Cloud computing and virtualization environments. AMD's superior graphics technologies are found in a variety of solutions ranging from game consoles, PCs to supercomputers. For more information, visit http://www.amd.com.