The thing about Android apps is there are rarely trial versions. If you want to check something out, your only option is to download the app and play around with it. There are two issues here: first, you don’t want to bog down your phone with memory-hungry apps, and second, if you pay for an app that you don’t end up liking, you don’t get a refund.
BlueStacks, a relatively new software outfit, has come up with a solution that allows you to run Android apps on your PC. Their eponymous program has made it possible for app developers to offer test runs on their websites, and for users to manage their data from phone to PC. Game enthusiasts are now also able to play their games on larger screens.
The program is basically a virtual operating system incorporating Android’s features and user interface, but made to run on the PC. That means it uses your computer’s processor, Internet connection, sound card, and other resources, including your mouse and keyboard. When it’s open, it runs in the background and is able to store, play, and even download apps. You can buy apps through BlueStacks using your Facebook account; you have to subscribe to updates to see which apps are available by the day.
You can also sync the program to your phone (the same way you sync your iPod to iTunes) using Cloud Connect, a free app from the same company. It’s meant to be installed on your phone and is easy to find on the Android Market. BlueStacks will provide a 9-digit pin which you will have to enter on your phone, allowing phone and PC to recognize each other. All you have to do is select apps from either BlueStacks or your phone and choose the Sync option–the two will connect using your internet connection.
So what’s the catch? Since it’s a relatively new program, BlueStacks isn’t able to run all apps. This can be due to hardware incompatibility or wireless network requirements, but the biggest hurdle is licensing: the free version of BlueStacks can only hold 26 apps at a time. The pro version, which is expected to come out soon, will be able to hold more apps, although there’s no word on how much (or whether there’s a limit). Nonetheless, it’s a useful app whether you’re an avid gamer, a mobile businessman or just someone with one too many gizmos.