AMD announced the launch of AMD AppZone on Thursday, your destination for applications and games that are supported by AMD Radeon GPUs and AMD APUs. Visitors can also download and run popular Android apps on AMD-based PCs running Windows 7 or Windows 8 using the company's new AMD AppZone Player.
AMD's emulator, based on Android 2.3 "Gingerbread", is powered by the popular BlueStacks software which allows users to run Android apps in a Windows environment. AMD-backed apps listed on the website include Fruit Ninja Free, Guns'N'Glory WW2, Beer Shooter, Documents To Go and many more. By downloading one of these, users are also installing the emulator which appears as "BlueStacks" on the desktop.
Once the software is installed, the app of choice automatically loads. However users can tap the "Home" button and discover even more Android apps supported by AMD hardware including Angry Birds Space, the MMORPG Avatar Fight, Smurfs' Village, Evernote, Instagram and more. Facebook and Twitter mobile apps come pre-installed.
BlueStacks has evolved quite a bit since we last visited. The software now connects with your Google account and Google Play. Thus, apps like Facebook and Twitter can be updated and those you've purchased can be installed to your PC. The same holds true with 1Mobile, Amazon App Store and Get Jar storefronts which also come pre-installed in Amazon's emulator.
Surprisingly, Google Play isn't listed alongside the other Android storefronts, but the BlueStacks search function is hooked directly into the Google storefront. Google Play's presence doesn't really become apparent until (1) the user connects BlueStacks to their Google account, (2) when search results list a specific app found across all store fronts, or (3) if a 3rd-party Launcher app is installed.
To test out the Android emulator, we installed and attempted to run several games. Naturally Aporkalypse – Pigs of Doom worked "out of the box," as it was one of the apps offered straight from AMD. Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies (Google) would not load, but Duke Nukem 3D (Google) seemingly worked just fine outside trying to figure out the controls. Aralon HD (Amazon) made it past the character generation screen before it froze, and Dead Space (Google) wouldn't download its extra payload. Sonic CD downloaded its full load (Google) and played great, but Gameloft's Six Guns (Amazon) couldn't download its extra content. Heck, Instagram even works if your webcam's own software is running in the background.
As before, Android device owners can sync their apps to Amazon's emulator using the BlueStacks app on Google Play. After entering a code to link desktop and mobile together, users can simply choose what apps they also want on the desktop from their mobile device. The problem with AMD's software thus far is that the virtual SD card is way too low – 2 GB – thus preventing users from loading a huge number or apps – or a handful of the smaller ones – into the emulator.
Still, the AppZone Player is extremely solid, and Android apps offered through AMD and Bluestacks will undoubtedly offer less problems than those found on Amazon and Google.... at least, for now. On the emulator's Home screen, users are greeted with a list of recommendations lined along the right side, and a strip along the bottom offers the typical Back, Menu, Home and Settings buttons. There's also a button to take a snapshot and share it on Facebook and Twitter.
"Users can download featured apps directly from within the AMD AppZone Player or search for apps across the built-in app store. In addition, AMD and BlueStacks are currently working with leading OEMs to preload the AppZone Player on upcoming AMD powered devices," AMD said.
In addition to the Android showcase, AMD's new portal also links to desktop software supported by AMD's hardware like Dungeons & Dragons Online, Adobe Photoshop CS6, Windows Live Essentials, PaintShop Pro, Winzip 16.5 and more. For AMD customers wanting to know what software is best suited for their hardware, this is the place to go. Everything can be downloaded through the AppZone, or via the Vision Engine Control Center which will be updated regularly.
BlueStacks, founded in 2009 by Rosen Sharma, is privately held and headquartered in Silicon Valley with global offices in India, Taiwan and Japan. It's also an AMD Ventures-backed software company. Below are actual screens taken while testing apps using the Android emulator: