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AMD Android Software Input Devices

AMD Partners With BlueStacks To Bring Android Apps To PCs 143

Posted by timothy
from the just-pinch-your-mouse dept.
eldavojohn writes "News outlets are reporting that AMD has partnered with BlueStacks to bring Android apps to AppZone Player, something that will apparently allow the more than 500,000 mobile apps to run on your PC. From their announcement: 'What's special about the player on AMD-based products? There are many challenges with running apps that were originally designed for phones or tablets on a PC that in most cases has a larger screen and higher resolution display. To solve this, BlueStacks has designed and optimized the player for AMD Radeon graphics and in particular, our OpenGL drivers found in our APUs and GPUs so you get a great 'big-screen' experience. Additionally, the apps are integrated into AppZone, our online showcase and one-stop-shop for apps accelerated by AMD technology.' Unfortunately this appears to only work on AMD-based PCs (although nowhere does it say that it won't work on Intel CPUs or non-Radeon GPUs). Also no word on how they overcame the difference between a mouse and touchscreen (think pinch to zoom)."
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AMD Partners With BlueStacks To Bring Android Apps To PCs

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  • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @04:15PM (#41481843)

    Thank you, Press-release-dot.

    Now explain why I would even *want* to use phone apps on my desktop?

    • by admdrew (782761) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @04:24PM (#41481955) Homepage

      explain why I would even *want* to

      Why not? It's new and interesting tech news, and this is /.

      • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @06:12PM (#41483157)

        Having run my own apps in the iPhone/iPad simulator, I can say it's nowhere near as good as the real thing. And apps on 'the real thing' are usually nowhere near as good as they would be on my desktop, except for portability and touchscreen-specific features. I have no desire for a solution that combines all the downsides of both PCs and portable devices.

        Admittedly, there is the rare phone app that, for no obvious reason, has no match on the PC, but even rarer is an app that would be worth the inconvenience and inevitable compatibility issues that would come from using a shim-ulator like this. And for those, why not just... use your phone?

        Unfortunately, if this takes off (and I can't really imagine it will), it would only encourage lazy developers to build compromised designs that work passably on phones and PCs without taking advantage of the unique strengths of either. It would be another decade of the same write-once-suck-everywhere that Java and Flash brought us.

        And for all of you, who I'm certain aren't interested in the slightest, here's my dramatic reading of the announcement:

        [The new hotness will] allow the more than 500,000 mobile apps to run on your PC

        *based on our estimate that soon all PCs will be Windows 8 multi-touch tablets—Steve Ballmer said so!—and all Android developers partner with us.

        'What's special about the player on AMD-based products?

        We call it: "Vendor lock-in!"

        There are many challenges with running apps that were originally designed for phones or tablets on a PC that in most cases has a larger screen and higher resolution display

        Likewise, there are many challenges with using the Mario Kart wheel to control a 747.

        To solve this, BlueStacks has designed and optimized the player for AMD Radeon graphics and in particular, our OpenGL drivers found in our APUs and GPUs so you get a great 'big-screen' experience.

        To solve this, we use only pink Mario Kart wheels, and in particular, pink wheels covered in our proprietary glitter for the best possible experience.

        Additionally, the apps are integrated into AppZone, our online showcase and one-stop-shop for apps accelerated by AMD technology.'

        You'll be able to use ANY Android app...that's tweaked for our service and available in our store. There'll be dozens! [bluestacks.com]

        BlueStacks has achieved some incredible momentum

        We think it will revolutionize the whole software market, just as CrossOver made Windows a thing of the past!

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          You'll be able to use ANY Android app...that's tweaked for our service and available in our store. There'll be dozens! [bluestacks.com]

          You joke, but after running Android x86 on an old windows tablet I was absolutely amazed at the number of apps that worked on ARM devices only. Some basic things like pdf readers were not available.

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          bluestacks has been in a beta for a loooong time. in two betas actually.

          it would be sort of neat if they didn't intentionally limit it's uses and make it shit(also one really wonders if their licensing is in order, I'd think they'd need to provide sources for some parts).

          but it's pretty much "almost as good" as running android-x86 in a virtualbox - Or running the new jellybean 4.1 intel emulator images.

        • by tepples (727027)

          And for those, why not just... use your phone?

          Because my phone is an Audiovox 8610 on Virgin Mobile, which doesn't run Android apps. If I were to upgrade to a phone that supported Android apps, my monthly bill would be seven times as big ($15 per 3 months payLo plan vs. $35 per month Beyond Talk plan).

    • by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @04:27PM (#41481981)

      Because you find an app that you wish you had it on your desktop? Duh!
       
      Case in point, the Tango app became very popular in my friends circle. Even when I was in front my laptop, I had to use my phone to video chat with someone. Until recently they did not have a desktop application. I would have definitely used this tool, if I could have.

    • by Jeng (926980) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @04:29PM (#41482017)

      There are oddly enough some apps that don't have a good equivalent on the PC side.

      A good example is Torque Pro, an amazingly awesome OBDII app for $4.99 . Does things stand alone OBDII readers could never do, even ones costing thousands of dollars can't do the things this little program can. And it is easy to use.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        and it works great with cheap chinese ELM327s that cost sub $20.

        I am not affiliated with Torque nor the producers of cheap ELM327 units, just a happy geek.

      • by MightyYar (622222)

        "Remote" for iOS and the Android version "Remote for iTunes".

        There is "iTunesRemoteSE" for the Mac/PC/Linux, but it is based on an Android app and does not have as much functionality as the Android or iOS apps.

    • I got a 100% 189/189 perfect score on the original Angry Birds in 6 hours with a mouse. So basically so that people can cheat at games cuz mouse > finger. Also, MONEY!!! MOAR MONEY!!!!
    • by AmeerCB (1222468)

      Now explain why I would even *want* to use phone apps on my desktop?

      Because most people have already purchased huge numbers of apps and, if they can get use out of them on another platform, why not?

    • Stock tickers, okcupid, weather, and other things where you do not have to open a web browser then type the name of the address, then login info if it is not saved, etc.

      The apps can provide more functionality too and can sync with your phone. Ask any Mac user with an IPhone?

      • you do not have to open a web browser then type the name of the address, then login info if it is not saved

        Drag the globe or lock icon from the address bar to your desktop, then tell the browser to save your username and password.

        The apps can provide more functionality too and can sync with your phone.

        Do they sync with phones whose service costs $100 per year, or does one have to upgrade to a smartphone whose service costs $400+ per year?

    • 2 dollar apps!

    • Here's a subjective reason. I have this game called Stone Age Game. You can recruit other players into your clan by typing in their ID, so people send their IDs back and forth. It's a pain to select an ID, change to another screen and then paste it in. It's boring and tedious. On a PC, I could do that in a tenth of the time.
      Stupid reason? Maybe, but it would at least improve my gameplay.

      • by admdrew (782761)

        As sort of an off-topic aside to this, I *hate* these kinds of games, because they're not "MMOs" like they claim, they just force their users to do marketing for them to increase the amount of advertising they send to people. And actually, they're not games, they're just revenue machines for lazy people taking advantage of peoples' desires to level up.

        Thankfully, they're usually easy to avoid - you can always tell it's one of these when users post their game IDs in their reviews, asking you to "add me pleas

        • Um, yes and no.
          First off, I have developed a great subconscious advert avoidance. I simply don't see them in the game. I also don't read reviews (such "games" don't deserve reviews to be written, let alone read). Why do I play it? Because I'm interested of what the next level unlocks. What have they been thinking about? Oh it's this weapon, oh it's that animal.
          The game is based on microtransactions, not ads. Whoever is dumb enough to pay for such a lazy 3-screens implementation deserve to have their money t

    • Now explain why I would even *want* to use phone apps on my desktop?

      Because there are hundreds of thousands of them and, statistically, there has to be at least one good one.

    • by erice (13380)

      Thank you, Press-release-dot.

      Now explain why I would even *want* to use phone apps on my desktop?

      CraigsNotifica is a far better Craig's List browser than anything I have found for the desktop. I think they are may be some Windows payware that is of similar capability but I don't run Windows.

    • by jrmech (2714225)

      Now explain why I would even *want* to use phone apps on my desktop?

      Data acquisition apps, displaying data on your PC...

  • by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @04:17PM (#41481873) Journal

    Also no word on how they overcame the difference between a mouse and touchscreen (think pinch to zoom).

    Multi-touch trackpad, perhaps?

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @04:29PM (#41482003) Homepage

      I don't see how there's any relevant difference at all between a desktop and a touch-screen tablet interface. Just use the same interface for both and everything will be fine. /Unity developer

    • by bobjr94 (1120555)
      Maybe hold L&R mouse buttons then move mouse to zoom, or zoom with scroll wheel ?
    • by Richy_T (111409)

      Two mice. Duh

    • Or maybe pinch to zoom is irrelevant because the screen is large enough that you don't need to zoom.

      • by MightyYar (622222)

        ALWAYS RUN AT MAXIMUM ZOOM!

        JUST LIKE TALKING AT MAXIMUM VOLUME!

          Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.
          Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.

      • Or maybe pinch to zoom is irrelevant because the screen is large enough that you don't need to zoom.

        And maybe it isn't. A screen big enough to display the whole USA at street level wouldn't fit on my desk.

    • by kesuki (321456)

      every action a touchscreen can do is emulatable with a mouse. left click is touch, right click is hold tap, double click double tap, zoom scrollwheel, and you have the middle click not even mapped, perhaps torsion emulation, for screens where twisting the screen is a special function. and despite the patents not one of thes notions is truly original if you consider how they are so similar to mouse input. but i am not a patent specialist.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      none of the apps really depend on multi touch.
      it's least of the issues with it.

      hasn't he wondered how you use those cheap chinese android boxes with a mouse and kb? it works just fine.

  • by somersault (912633) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @04:19PM (#41481887) Homepage Journal

    Pinch to zoom is pretty easily handled by the mouse wheel, or say click both the left and right mouse button and drag. You could also do 3 finger touch if you include the middle button. Things that wouldn't work with a mouse would be rotations for example. Those could be handled by buttons on the keyboard, or I guess mouse gestures or other button combinations (left and middle to rotate left for example).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Easy. TWO MICE! AWESOME!

    • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @04:23PM (#41481947)

      Rotation is easily handled - moving the mouse left/right while holding the mousewheel down, for example. Unless there's also a need for panning while simultaneously zooming and rotating, of course.

      On the other hand, how many apps do the two-finger rotation thing? And how many of those have you cursed for having it because every time you merely want to zoom, the app decides that you also want to rotate the view by 1 degree?

      I see the lack of an accelerometer in most computers as a bigger issue. Even when it does have an accelerometer, that also happens to be accessible (perhaps as part of a laptop's mechanisms to help prevent damage to HDDs), a laptop isn't exactly something you start tilting around to e.g. play a racing game.

      Still, there's plenty of apps that don't even need those things or you can make do with a kludge.

      • by Richy_T (111409)

        Hmm. Wiimote perhaps?

      • by Urza9814 (883915)

        I see the lack of an accelerometer in most computers as a bigger issue. Even when it does have an accelerometer, that also happens to be accessible (perhaps as part of a laptop's mechanisms to help prevent damage to HDDs), a laptop isn't exactly something you start tilting around to e.g. play a racing game.

        Most likely they'll just use the arrow keys...

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Map accelerometer to joystick, done and done.

  • Bring it to Linux (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phorm (591458) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @04:30PM (#41482021) Journal

    And then I'll be happy. Especially if it allows me to use Netflix, etc. (one of the few reasons I might boot to windows on my PC still)

    • Not sure why you are modded down mate. I agree with you 100%, this needs to be ported to Unixen.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      I agree 100%.
      Does the netflix app work in the android virtual machine?

      Never tried, as I have other devices hooked to my tv that can play it.

    • I'm rather suprised that this is windows only (Android actually uses the Linux kernel) - it's much harder to port to a completely different OS and different kernel, than it is to port to another OS with an almost-identical kernel.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        I would think the bigger issue would be that arm emulation on x86 is painfully slow. Once you have that working reasonably well no need to port anything, just run the whole android os in the emulator.

        • AFAIK, android apps are javaish, so it's mostly bytecode, not native code, so you don't have to emulate a processor, but mainly re-implement the API.
          In any case, Bluestacks isn't an emulator.

          • Actually, while technical details are sparse, Bluestacks seems to emulate ARM instructions with their LayerCake technology, which also provides hardware gfx acceleration.
            Most Android games use native ARM code in a Dalvik/java wrapper, and Bluestacks seems to be able to run at least some unmodified.
          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            Only the trivial ones, something like netflix use the NDK for all the important functions like actually playing the video.

        • If android actually gets a working X Windows you'll be able to have a little ARM device running the thing natively able to put it on your screen. With USB networking it could be a plug in dongle sort of thing.
          Of course that's not going to happen so the best we can ever expect is VNC. It astounds me that android took the 1980s approach of a local display only when every single android device has vastly more grunt than the sort of stuff that was happily running X in the late 1990s.
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Getting rid of X on a mobile device makes sense. It's massive and it's a PITA to maintain.

            • by dbIII (701233)
              Until you run into situations like this where it's actually useful, such as my example above.
              Think about what a phone or tablet is for at least a full second. They are devices where their primary role is connecting to other devices over a network. Now can you see how a graphical system that is aware of networks should have been considered?
    • by Disfnord (1077111)

      Netflix works fine on my Linux desktop. Just need to install DeCSS to get the DVDs to play.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I use a multiclient messenger (IMO) on my phone that, sadly, does not have a desktop port.
    Looking around, they did try to make one, and swiftly abandoned it. Other than that, though, I don't think I'd use it for much, concept is still cool though.
  • Slashdot has in the summary a link to an Original Source!

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @04:46PM (#41482227)

    The problem with phone applications in general is they are designed for either a small display (phone) or large display (tablet).
    A UI scrunched-up to fit a phone display suddenly becomes way too spacious when run on a tablet (let alone a 23" 1920x1600 monitor). Android tries to address this by allowing multiple layouts for your UI based on the display it's running on but I've not seen many applications actually implement that. I wonder how BlueStack is planning to address that. TFA sounds like they are mainly pimping "cloud sync" of app info.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Could you not just window the app?
      So if it was designed for 800x480 you just give it that many pixels?

    • I don't know whether it would actually be worth using; but dumping phone-sized applications onto the PC desktop as 'widgets' would be architecturally pretty doable, though the difference in pixel density between most phones and most PCs could make it rather ugly: If you mapped pixels 1:1, the app would end up looking fairly enormous on most monitors; but if you used monitor DPI to display the app at the same size as the phone's screen, bitmap UI elements would not be happy. You'd also run into the bigger qu

      • by tepples (727027)

        If you mapped pixels 1:1, the app would end up looking fairly enormous on most monitors; but if you used monitor DPI to display the app at the same size as the phone's screen, bitmap UI elements would not be happy.

        Android applications can have four sets of bitmaps: low (120 dpi), medium (160 dpi), high (240 dpi), and retina (320 dpi). Phone-sized applications running in a window on the PC, with the title bar where the notification bar once was, would probably use the low density (ldpi) set.

        You'd also run into the bigger question of whether anybody actually wants 'widgets'.

        If thousands of phone-sized applications were suddenly made available as widgets, people might be more inclined to use them.

    • by PRMan (959735)
      Nice theory. But in practice most of the apps for my Android phone worked just fine on my 1280x768 tablet. Android isn't lame like iOS. Stuff actually scales well with no intervention.
  • by mestar (121800) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @04:57PM (#41482383)

    "There are many challenges with running apps that were originally designed for phones or tablets on a PC that in most cases has a larger screen and higher resolution display."

    If only there was a way that you can limit the amount of screen a single app can take. If only... But, one can dream, one can dream...

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      If only, but as Windows 8 and other new interfaces prove such a technology has been lost to time. Perhaps one day it will be rediscovered.

  • Pinch to zoom could easily be implemented using the scroll wheel of a mouse.

    • Pinch to zoom could easily be implemented using the scroll wheel of a mouse.

      No, it can not.

      • Pinch to zoom could easily be implemented using the scroll wheel of a mouse.

        No, it can not.

        For some reason I just replied to this and it didn't show. Yes, it certainly could. The position of the mouse would be the focus of the zoom and the scroll wheel would scroll in and out. Tell me why that wouldn't work.

        • Two reasons:

          1. The reason pinch-to-zoom works is because the other finger is defining range by human intuition. The scroll wheel does not provide even similar intuitive feedback, not to mention the ergonomics of trying to hold a button down and zoom.

          2. Most scroll wheels provide clicks, not a smooth roll. (Think: the difference between integers and floats.)

          Now I don't know for sure, but I'd also be willing to bet that that when an app does a pinch-to-zoom, they're not doing anything special to identify it

          • Two reasons:

            1. The reason pinch-to-zoom works is because the other finger is defining range by human intuition. The scroll wheel does not provide even similar intuitive feedback, not to mention the ergonomics of trying to hold a button down and zoom.

            2. Most scroll wheels provide clicks, not a smooth roll. (Think: the difference between integers and floats.)

            Now I don't know for sure, but I'd also be willing to bet that that when an app does a pinch-to-zoom, they're not doing anything special to identify it as such. The software wouldn't know the difference bewteen "zooming' and "interpreting a gesture based on two inputs". If I'm right, then there's no way to auto-detect being able to swap the zoom gesture with a mouse + scroll wheel input. That would mean the scroll wheel would provide bizarre results for just about any Android app running on the PC.

            The scroll wheel is not an alternative to multi-touch-input.

            No offense but that is a weak argument. I never said it was a replacement for multi-touch-input. I said it could be a viable alternative for pinch-to-zoom, which is a subset of multi-touch. Nothing you said makes it sound like it wouldn't work. It probably wouldn't be perfect but the functionality would be there.

            • I never said it was a replacement for multi-touch-input.

              I didn't say you said it was. What I said was the app emulating the Android device would need to know the difference between being a generic multi-touch gesture and an actual 'zoom' or you're going to get undesired behaviour.

              I know you're not convinced, but that actually is a pretty compelling argument of why it's not as simple as you've made it out to be. Think about it.

              • I never said it was a replacement for multi-touch-input.

                I didn't say you said it was. What I said was the app emulating the Android device would need to know the difference between being a generic multi-touch gesture and an actual 'zoom' or you're going to get undesired behaviour.

                I know you're not convinced, but that actually is a pretty compelling argument of why it's not as simple as you've made it out to be. Think about it.

                I still think that it would be a suitable substitute, and yes I can write code and can think of ways to capture the mouse position and input to emulate pinch-to-zoom. What I fail to see is why anyone would want to run mobile apps on a PC, but that wasn't what we are debating. On that note, I would like to thank you for the civil debate. All too often these days /. descends into 4chan-space with regards to disagreements.

              • The app shouldn't need to do that. It should be receiving an appropriate event/message/action code from whatever abstraction layer deals with the GUI.

          • by jsh1972 (1095519)
            the defining range problem is easy- when you click down, that is your zero point, when you roll it up as Fwy as you can, it's equal to spreading your fingers apart as far as you can, and vice versa. Most pinch to zoom apps, i.e. Image galleries, won't zoom in to the max with one pinch; you typically have to use around 3 or 4... Same with the wheel, click down, roll up.. Click down, roll up... Click down, roll up. You could do it at the same speed as pinching, try it on your mouse.
            • by jsh1972 (1095519)
              sorry to reply to myself, the problem about the software knowing when it's a zoom and when it's a multi-touch pinch... Can't you bind the click wheel to always equal a multi-touch pinch, and just let the position of the mouse determine whether to zoom or not, just like pinching in certain areas on the screen? Also, I may not patent this, but if anyone tries to, this is prior art! ;-)
          • Most scroll wheels provide clicks, not a smooth roll.

            Then calibrate it such that four scroll wheel units provide a doubling: each unit does the touch gesture to multiply or divide the size of the active area by 1.19.

  • by Dunbal (464142) *
    I guess it's much easier to "dumb down" the desktop instead of trying to make "smarter" phone apps.
  • Bluestacks. BluuuuuuueStacksssssssssss. Blue. Stacks.

    Not feeling it. Sorry.

  • by gelfling (6534)

    First off most Android apps suck. Second, they're built for touch screens. Third most Android apps suck. Fourth, most Android apps are built to circumvent limitations in the phones browser and the download speed. Fifth most Android apps suck.

  • Windows 8 Tablets (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arterion (941661) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @06:21PM (#41483237)

    You guys are missing the point! This is all about Windows 8 tablets, which are going to be on the market very soon. The Windows app store is going to be sparse, and honestly, the biggest drawback to getting a Windows tablet. With Bluestacks, you get all the Metro apps AND all your android apps. This is a HUGE deal.

    Think about when Intel comes out with the next generation of ultra low power x86 processors: Windows 8 tablets running on x86. You get everything you could want: Real desktop apps, Metro Apps, and all the Android smartphone/tablet apps. Throw it in a case with a bluetooth keyboard + trackpack (or mouse), and why would anyone need or want a laptop? I think it could probably replace the desktop for many users.

    I'm telling you, this is HUGE. It will allows Windows 8 tablets to overcome their barrier to entering the market: a mature app store.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      "Think about when Intel comes out with the next generation of ultra low power x86 processors"'

      as a mobile developer I've been hearing this line for a decade.

  • pinch-to-zoom with a mouse could be done by pressing down on the click wheel, and while held down, roll up to zoom in and down to zoom out, or vice versa.
  • So does it run in WINE?

    • by KiloByte (825081)

      Let's get it right: you want to emulate an emulator that emulates a Linux system? Especially now that Android changes have been merged into upstream kernels, this seems to be Ruby Goldbergesque to say the least. It's pretty trivial to get text-mode Android to run in a chroot, it might be tricky to get graphics right. I did not try that -- if you're satisfied in system-in-a-box, VirtualBox and/or KVM work well enough.

  • There are many challenges with running apps that were originally designed for phones or tablets on a PC that in most cases has a larger screen and higher resolution display.

    Try doing it the other way round. In the snow.

  • Multitouch trackpads?

    Summary fail.

  • You can just run an Android image inside VirtualBox. It's free and it works today (and it actually works reasonably well).

  • "Also no word on how they overcame the difference between a mouse and touchscreen (think pinch to zoom)."

    Yes that one is hard, I will have to think about that for at least 2 seconds...scroll wheel.

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