What do you get if an Android marries Windows? The answer: BlueStacks. The San Francisco company of that name has announced technology that will enable users to run Android applications on Windows x86 devices, alongside Windows apps.
This allows the rapidly growing number of Android mobile apps -- and the data created within them -- to be used across platforms.
Amazon's Store, Not Google's
With BlueStacks, a user can run both Android and Windows applications at the same time on Windows machines. The company said the switch can be accomplished within one second, with no reboot required, and both kinds of apps can run at the same time. BlueStacks can be configured to run Android on a docked laptop and Windows on an external display, or the other way around.
Data, including photos and video, can be shared between the two kinds of apps. There is also functional integration between them. For instance, a user can print through Windows from within an Android app, or create a shortcut in Windows for an Android app.
The company is directing users to download free and paid apps from Amazon.com's app store, or from small apps stores like GetJar and SlideMe. These outlets are chosen instead of Google's Android Market because of Google's emphasis on ARM-powered mobile devices.
For enterprises, BlueStacks said its technology makes life easier because, as the Android app population grows by leaps and bounds, and as company personnel obtain Android-based smartphones, IT departments won't need to invest in new Android hardware on the desktop to take advantage.
Not 'A Ground-Shaking Thing'
BlueStacks also said the technology allows IT departments to manage security and other aspects on Windows machines without setting up a separate security structure for Android. Additionally, BlueStacks allows Android apps to be deployed and managed via a Citrix or Microsoft enterprise infrastructure.
Pricing hasn't been specified, and the company has said it's in discussions with a variety of OEMs for integration with their products.
Al Hilwa, program director for application development at IDC, said BlueStacks could be "one more thing" to do on a Windows machine, but he noted that "this isn't a ground-shaking thing."
He pointed out that many Android apps are designed for touch, while Windows, which can support touch, isn't currently designed specifically for that kind of interaction. For mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, he said, there are built-in GPS features and accelerators that would be useless on a Windows laptop.
Hilwa also questioned what would be a user's motive to pay for BlueStacks, although he said he could see OEMs adding it as "part of their product checklist," to stand out.
BlueStacks is led by CEO Rosen Sharma, whose previous role was as SVP and CTO of innovation at McAfee. It's backed by Ignition Ventures, Radar Partners, Helion Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, and Andreessen Horowitz.