BlueStacks App Player is a free Android gaming platform for PC. It allows you to play your favorite Android games – and other apps – right from the comfort of your computer, without having to hook up your phone or tweak your monitor. BlueStacks is resource-heavy, so you’ll need to keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t slow your computer down.
Android games on PC, but at a price
Android games have come pretty far in recent times, and it’s no wonder you might want to play some of the best ones wherever you go, even if that’s on your PC. BlueStacks App Player is an Android emulator for Windows that does just that. So, how does it do?
Downloading and installing BlueStacks
BlueStacks Downloading BlueStacks is very easy, but the install process took a little longer than we’d like. This is understandable – it’s a complex app – but we were disappointed to find that the install wasn’t the only place we were going to be left hanging around. The BlueStacks interface is attractive and pretty simple to navigate, but the app does hide a huge number of somewhat complicated options and settings and, as we’ll discover later, you’ll want to get acquainted with them sooner rather than later.
Adding Android games and apps
Adding games and apps is pretty easy – BlueStacks is most definitely aimed at gamers, but there’s no reason you couldn’t download some other type of app too. If you’re looking for an Android emulator for other reasons, however (like development), you’re better off looking at something more like Genymotion.
You’ll need to log into the Google account linked to your Android phone to do this. You can search for apps through BlueStacks or directly through the Play Store, but when it comes to installing them, it will happen via the Play Store.
When you find a game you want to play, it installs on the app in exactly the same way it would install on your phone – but it doesn’t sync. Games you have installed via BlueStacks will not be available on your phone and, likewise, if you’ve installed a game on your phone, you’ll still have to download it again to use in BlueStacks.
Encouraging the best performance
If you’re planning on using BlueStacks, we’d recommend getting familiar with the settings. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, as the games available on Bluestacks are mobile games, not all of them are designed for use with a keyboard and mouse. By checking out the settings, you’ll see all of the options available to you to improve your interaction with the game – open Advanced Game Controls (the keyboard symbol on the right) to see what is on offer to you.
Another reason you’re likely to want to check out the settings is that BlueStacks is unfortunately slow. We played a few games while testing and the games moved fluidly, but opening games, searching, and changing tabs are all pretty slow. Other users have reported that other PC operations can slow down while using BlueStacks, but that wasn’t something that we noticed. Either way, the app offers tips to speed up BlueStacks, and we recommend that you pay attention!
Better control of Android games
When playing a game via BlueStacks, all your game control options will be found on the right of the screen. Some of these, like fullscreen, is totally standard, but others are very much focused on the Android emulation experience. How much you’ll use these options depend on what games you’re playing, but check them all out to see which ones might be of particular use to you.
Among other features, you’ll be able to take screenshots and videos, record macros (to automate actions), set your real or mock location, rotate the screen, shake the screen, and access advanced mobile controls that will help you control mobile apps from a PC set-up. You can save settings configurations for later use, or even run multiple instances of BlueStacks concurrently.
Only for diehard Android fans
If you’ve decided that you absolutely must play Android games on your PC, then BlueStacks isn’t a bad option. It’s improved hugely over the past few years and, if you can get past the speed issues, does a very good job of porting Android games to the computer. Whether or not it is better for you than competitors like Nox App Player and KOPLAYER probably depends on what games you are playing though (each has specific pros and cons), so check them all out and pick the best.
The most recent version of BlueStacks allows you to switch tabs without a blank screen and fixes intermittent crashes occurring in various scenarios.