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My Mobile Desktop!
Ken in Regina
Okay, this is really fun!

I'm typing this using the stock Android browser ... in a window on my Windows 7 desktop computer!!

I've installed a product called Bluestacks that is a sort of Android emulator available for Windows and Mac OS. It's relatively painless to get going with it. It has some things that are a bit irritating at the moment but I haven't spent enough time with it to find out if I can change/remove them or not.

In any case I have not yet encountered anything that makes me want to uninstall it.

If you are an Android user on your mobile device(s), as I am, and think it might be interesting to see if having some of your Android apps on your Windows or Mac desktop computer would be useful or at least entertaining, you should give it a try.

Some apps make no sense at all on the desktop. But I've already got a couple that are absolutely perfect and let me do something I can't figure out how to do any other way.

For instance, I can use BBM to send and receive messages without having to turn on the phone to do it.

Also I can do SMS text messages from my desktop. I have an app called CloudSMS. You run a sort of "server" app on your phone and a "client" app on, say, your tablet. The app on the phone shuttles incoming and outgoing texts over to your tablet. That allows me to send and receive texts on my tablet when I'm using it instead of having to reach for the phone. Now I can use the same app on the Android emulator on my desktop and send/receive texts right from here. Neat!!

More neat .. I just discovered that you can cut/paste between the Android window and Windows desktop apps using the Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V shortcuts. I did that to copy the link below.

You can get Bluestacks here: http://www.bluestacks.com/

It's free right now while it's still in beta. I have no idea what happens when they finalize it for release. It's great fun for no cost in the mean time.

...ken...
Ken in Regina
Ooops, I forgot BBM does not support the same ID on multiple devices so I'm stuck either using it only on my phone or else becoming schizo and having multiple personalities for multiple devices ... not for me.

...ken...
malaki86
If you want a cool text-messenger, check out MightyText. I installed it on my phone first (necessary, since it uses your phone to send/receive messages), then onto my WiFi-only tablet. You can also send-receive messages via the web from the pc, as well.

All of the messages are synced, meaning you'll see the same messages on all devices.

And, yes, it's 100% free.
Ken in Regina
Thanks for the suggestion Malaki but Might Text replaces my SMS messaging client. I'm not interested in doing that and Cloud SMS doesn't require that. Also, MT is not compatible with my tablet.

...ken...
Boyd
On Mac and iOS devices there's something called iMessage. If the person you're texting has one of the above, then your message is delivered to them over the internet. It is completely transparent, you just send texts the regular way from your phone but they appear in blue if iMessage is available instead of the default green.

This is a fantastic thing for me. Turns out, everyone that I need to text regularly has an iPhone. I just have the basic text message package from AT&T and it has a very small allowance of messages per month. I would frequently exceed that. Now I hardly ever send a "real" SMS message. Another nice thing is that iMessage gives you a delivery confirmation. And since it's cloud based, it runs simultaneously on my MacBook Air so I can use the real keyboard to send texts.

The big win for me is staying in touch with my friend in Greece. International text messages are really expensive, and iMessage is free.
SpadesFlush
This BlueStacks is interesting, Ken. Thanks for starting this thread!

I have downloaded on to my main PC and have started playing around with it. I like the idea of accessing apps on my PC and I am just feeling my way around at the moment.

One question: As a newby to this Android stuff, I get the impression the only way to access an app is via the Amazon app store and I was just wondering if that is the only way or is there some other? I suppose that is alright if everything is carried by Amazon but I just looked for an app that I think is "out there" but could not find it in Amazon.
malaki86
Wish it used the Google Play store instead of Amazon. Looks pretty cool, though.

Scratch that. Found Google Play - somehow. Just don't know how. Pretty freakin' cool find!
malaki86
The more I use that program, the more I like it!
Ken in Regina
Android is based on Linux. Both Linux and Android allow you to change the entire user interface if you want to. In Linux you install a different "desktop" (Gnome, KDE, X11, etc.). A couple of them are nearly perfect copies of Windows and there's even one that looks a lot like the Mac OS.

You can do the same thing with Android by changing the "launcher". The default launcher (home screen) you see is a little bit annoying. But I guess it's the price you pay for a "free" toy.

Not to worry, you can simply change it. The easiest way to do that is to search for "launcher" in the Google Play Store. If you still have the default launcher installed in Bluestacks, just click the big magnifying glass at the left (?) end of the top row. That should pop up the Play Store and let you search for "launcher". There are a ton of different ones and many are freebies.

Clicking on the big magnifying glass launches the Google Play app. With the default Bluestacks launcher it seems to be the only way to get to the Google Play app.

There are actually lots more of the standard apps preinstalled in Bluestacks but you won't be able to find them with the default launcher.

I'm currently using "ICS Launcher". As you might guess from the name it gives me the look and behaviour of the stock Ice Cream Sandwich launcher. I'll probably play around with some others but first I wanted an interface that gave me a more familiar starting point so I could see what I was really working with. The default Bluestacks launcher doesn't do that. It's mainly a big advertising screen.

You can see (and install) ICS Launcher here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=mobi.SyndicateApps.ICSv2

Just poke that into the browser in Bluestacks and it will take you to the appropriate item in the Play Store. Once you are at the Google Play Store in the browser you can do anything you might do with the Google Play app.

After you install a new launcher you will be able to better see what all is preinstalled in Bluestacks already so you don't have to duplicate it.

Hope that helps a bit. I felt like I was flying blind until I changed the launcher. Once I got the launcher changed to a more familiar interface I was off and running.

Your right, Malaki ... pretty freakin' cool!!

...ken...
Ken in Regina
Once you have a new launcher installed, hitting the home screen icon will now pop a window that offers you all the currently installed launchers so you can choose which one you want at the moment (yes, you can have as many launchers installed at one time as you please!)

I tried three launchers before the ICS Launcher and didn't like any of them. For the first few times I hit the home screen icon and selected the new launcher, I hit the "Just once" button instead of "Always use this one". If I didn't like the launcher after a few uses I uninstalled it and installed a different one.

Once I had used the ICS Launcher a few times and decided it would do for now, I hit the home icon, selected the ICS Launcher and tapped the "Always..." button so now it's the default launcher.

If I uninstall it, the stock Bluestacks home screen will appear again when I hit the home icon.

...ken...
Ken in Regina
By the way, the name of the default Bluestacks launcher is "Gamepop-Home" so when you hit the home icon the first time after installing a different launcher you will see:

Gamepop-Home
<new launcher name>

and then one or more buttons or checkboxes at the bottom that allow you to either use the one you select just this once or make it the default. They will be self explanatory.

If you have more launchers installed, they will also show up in the list.

If you have more than one installed and make one of them the default, then you want to use a different one without uninstalling the default, go to Settings > Apps > scroll to the name of the launcher that is currently the default and tap it, then scroll down and tap the "Clear Defaults" button.

...ken...
malaki86
TYVM for the Launcher info! I like the looks/feel of the GO Launcher Ex.
malaki86
Played around some more and went with Smart Launcher. In fact, I may install that one on my tablet and possibly on the phone.

Are you able to get any widgets to work? I can't even get them to place on the home screens.
Ken in Regina
Nope, no joy with widgets.

...ken...
SpadesFlush
I see that Smart Launcher has something called Smart Launcher Pro and it mentions widgets. It says $3.99 for the Pro version and it might be worth it.
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