When Microsoft announced Android app support for Windows 11, it was one of the bigger surprises of its event unveiling the OS. Windows 11 will support Android apps through the Amazon Store and even support sideloading APKs. While these are innovative and new technologies, they aren't the only way to run Android apps on your PC.
BlueStacks has been in the Android emulation game for years. It's one of the best-recognized ways to run Android apps and games on your PC.
Aimed largely at gamers, BlueStacks has some features that Windows 11's solution for Android apps likely won't, including advanced customizable game controls. Since Android games are primarily built for touch, they usually aren't optimized for a mouse and keyboard. BlueStacks helps them feel more natural on a PC.
While BlueStacks is marketed towards gamers, it works well with Android apps. If you use an Android app that isn't available on Windows, there's a good chance that it works with BlueStacks.
The last major release of BlueStacks only rolled out in May, so it's recently been updated. The company behind the emulator also works to improve the app over time. BlueStacks 5 uses up to 50% less RAM than its predecessor and even works with ARM devices like the Surface Pro X.
BlueStacks 5 is one of the most popular Android emulators for Windows. It provides a solid gaming experience, thanks to its advanced customizable controls.
Your Phone app
Before adding native support for Android apps in Windows 11, Microsoft took a different approach to getting more apps onto PCs. With Microsoft's Your Phone app, people can use supported hardware to connect their phone to their PC, including running apps from a phone on a computer. Microsoft even added the ability to run multiple apps from your phone on your PC at the same time for certain devices.
The major downside to the Your Phone app is that the apps feature is available only for certain phones. All of the supported devices are from Samsung as well, which means if you use a device from any other manufacturer, you're out of luck. Even Microsoft's Surface Duo isn't on the list of supported devices.
Your Phone can sync your text messages, notifications, and calls between your smartphone and PC. With supported hardware, it can also run your smartphone's Android apps on your computer.
Not quite native
None of these solutions are as elegant as what Microsoft is doing with Android apps on Windows 11. Most notably, Android apps will run natively on the new operating system, which should yield better performance than emulation or streaming apps from a phone.
But they do provide other options for getting Android apps to run on your PC, and you can use them right now. Even after Windows 11 rolls out, BlueStacks should still have a solid niche among gamers.
They serve as a complement to the best apps on Windows and Microsoft's efforts to bring Android apps to Windows 11.
Get the Windows Central Newsletter
All the latest news, reviews, and guides for Windows and Xbox diehards.
Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at email@example.com.