Microsoft made some noise when it announced that Windows 11 would eventually support running Android apps, but it is actually a bit late to the game. Although this “Windows Subsystem for Android” does have technical and performance advantages, it isn’t the only solution available today. For quite a while now, BlueStacks has been offering an emulator that ran a modified Android experience on PCs and Macs. Now the company has taken that concept to the cloud with BlueStacks X, its formal foray into cloud-based game streaming.
BlueStacks has been one of the most prominent methods to run Android apps on Windows and macOS, most often used for Android games. It uses an emulation method to accomplish that, and that naturally has some drawbacks in terms of performance. At the very least, you’ll need some rather powerful hardware to play Android games comfortably.
BlueStacks X alleviates that in the same way cloud gaming does, though with a slight twist to the story. Partnering with its own sister company, now.gg, the new service uses a hybrid approach to game streaming. In a nutshell, it offloads some of the hard work of computation and graphics rendering to the endpoint, that is, the client device, so that not all data has to be streamed from the cloud.
That’s not exactly a big problem since most of those endpoints are cable of native graphics rendering, including modern browsers like Chrome. This means that almost any device with a browser can actually access BlueStacks X games, including a modest Raspberry Pi or, for kicks, an Android phone. It also takes a load off BlueStack’s servers, helping it reduce costs.
The latter also helps in turning BlueStacks X into an ad-supported free service, though a paid premium tier will be introduced later. The service is still in beta and is available on Windows 10 and 11, macOS, iOS, Android, and Chrome OS, among other platforms. BlueStacks X does have a dedicated App Player for Windows PCs, but you can easily access it from any browser as well.