Ever since a pre-launch BlueStacks raised $7.6 million in Series A financing, the startup has been attracting attention. Why? Because it’s developed software designed to let Android users run their apps on all Windows PCs, tablets, and laptops — without any modifications. Not to mention the startup then raised another $6.4 million a few months later from AMD and Citrix Systems, with contribution from existing investors like Andreessen Horowitz, Ignition Ventures, and more.
The Series B followed closely on the heels of the alpha launch of its App Player for Windows — a free software download that gives users one-click access to Android apps on any Windows PC, along with the ability to view these apps in full-screen. Accompanying the App Player was Cloud Connect, a cloud-based service that allows PCs to become an extension of any Android-based mobile device — and vice versa. And today, BlueStacks is pushing forward with its next major release, the beta version of its App Player, which is chasing the ambitious goal of bringing the some 450,000 Android apps to those billion-odd PC users out there.
The beta software release is of note because it now allows desktop PCs to run graphics-intensive Android apps, accelerating them to a degree that prior iterations of the software just weren’t capable of. This new functionality is made possible by the company’s new patent-pending technology, called Layercake, which allows Android apps to run on x86-based PCs, including apps that are written for the ARM processor, like Angry Birds Space or Fruit Ninja, for example.
BlueStacks’ beta release uses your PC’s graphics card to make apps running graphics-intensive engines like Unity run without glitches, using hardware acceleration not dissimilar to that which takes place in the browser. The new release also brings the accelerometer tilting and pinch-to-zoom features of the smartphone experience to the desktop, by way of the mouse and keyboard arrows.
The startup found quite a bit of traction during its three-month-long alpha phase, attracting over 1 million users in more than 100 countries, with more than 4.5 million apps opened. With its beta, the startup wants to build on its early success, while making the experience more frictionless. This means that users can now download apps from within BlueStacks even if they don’t have an Android phone, a dock launcher that reflects the Windows interface, in addition to Cloud Connect enabling users to send and receive SMS messages on their PCs.
BlueStacks VP of Marketing and Business Development says that the company has partnered with the developers behind apps like Fruit Ninja, SliceIt!, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Townsmen, Evernote, Defender and StumbleUpon to pre-load their apps in the beta. These developers have been attracted to BlueStacks’ software, because it opens up Android app discovery to a huge potential market — the billion-plus users of PCs. Not only that, but developers don’t have to port or modify their apps to run them on those PCs, and that’s money in the bank.
For more, check out the BlueStacks beta release here.