In short: BlueStacks 4 has now officially launched, bringing a major overhaul to the aesthetics, features, and performance of the popular Android emulator for PC. Of course, that includes significant improvements to underlying performance but the new UI is going to be the first change users notice. Buttons and links have been moved to easy-to-find positions and resized to take up less space without hindering their use. Meanwhile, the BlueStacks application now launches directly to the installed applications page. Moreover, a central tenant to those changes is customization and the company says that skins are now more easily applied. The task manager hasn't been left out of those UX optimizations either. A cleaner, easier Instance Manager has been included, alongside a redesigned Key Mapping Tool. Finally, BlueStacks Points and cards are now more functional. "Pro-gamer" prizes such as a gaming chair or mouse can be bought with those via the BlueStacks Store and cards can now be traded with other players.
Background: Designed to deliver Android gaming and apps on Windows PCs or laptops, BlueStacks has been around since 2011. Although the concept was initially intended to serve as a way to play those titles on a bigger screen, it has evolved into a platform that allows users to leverage their more powerful full desktop hardware and save battery life. That's also included the additions of multitasking capabilities, a dedicated app market in addition to Google Play access, refinements and optimizations, custom keyboard control mapping, and more recent updates to the base Android version in use. The newest update builds on those with modern changes to the UI and themes with a focus on performance, task management, and ease-of-use.
Impact: Although the most immediately obvious changes are to the interface, the biggest improvement with BlueStacks 4 is likely to be its improved performance. CPU and GPU optimizations have been made which substantially boost the frames per second users could experience and in some cases provide as much as eight-times the performance delivered by Samsung's Galaxy S9 Plus. The improvements are likely to depend on the hardware in question but that increase shows that with the advent and subsequent growth of Chrome OS and screen mirroring solutions, BlueStacks is shifting at least some of its focus to performance. The UI changes help to bring all of that together, giving users more ways to enjoy the experiences created by Android game and app developers without tying up their phone.