What if you could run Android on Windows in real time, side-by-side and without any lag whatsoever? BlueStacks promises all this – we go hands-on after the break.
Meet BlueStacks: A virtualization layer, created by a Silicon Valley startup of the same name, that claims to be able to run Android seamlessly, side-by-side with Windows. The prospect of this is oh-so-very tantalizing, and we were fortunate enough to get a hands-on demo of BlueStacks at Computex.
Three demo platforms were on show – a HP TouchSmart all-in-one, an Acer Iconia, and an ASUS Eee Pad 121. All of these were running Android on top of Windows 7, but according to BlueStacks the arrangement is flexible. It also works with Linux-based operating systems such as Google Chrome, and in the future it will work on top of Windows 8 ARM.
Diagrams courtesy of BlueStacks.
This is of course not the first time Android has been run on top of Windows. Google's official Android Emulator has been in existence for as long as Android, but as any developer can testify, it is incredibly slow. BlueStacks, on the other hand, pretty much blew our mind the first time we encountered it in person.
Starting up Android from Windows 7 was nearly instantaneous. Application launching and web browsing was as smooth as on the latest Android devices. Flash is supported but video playback is still being ironed out. BlueStacks has implemented multitouch gestures, so if your device has a capable touchscreen the experience is about as close to real Android as it gets. Even if you're using a non-touch device, you can still navigate Android quite well with a mouse. BlueStacks has placed the Android hardware buttons (Home, Menu, Back) at the top of the screen, together with a button to switch back to Windows.
Switching between Windows and Android is nearly instantaneous, and can also be done via the Android homescreen dock. Another nifty feature is a Windows 7 desktop gadget that lets you open Android applications directly instead of having to go through the Android homescreen.
Google doesn't provide official Market support on unusual Android installations such as this, so in its place we have the Amazon Appstore.
BlueStacks consumes a mere 18MB of memory. While minimized, it consumes none at all as the virtualization layer presumably saves the OS state to disk.