BlueStacks 5 Android emulator sheds some weight, still on Nougat

Mobile gaming has become a large and lucrative industry but while almost everyone these days has a smartphone, not everyone has it in their hands all of the time. Some might be more comfortable playing with a keyboard and mouse or spend most of their time in front of their desktops and laptops. That situation has given birth to Android emulators like the popular BlueStacks that is bragging about its latest big upgrade that, unfortunately, seems to still keep its feet planted deeply in the past.

The current stable version of BlueStacks was launched way back in 2018 and a lot has happened in the mobile and computing world that makes this upgrade long overdue. As smartphones become more powerful, games and apps have also become more sophisticated and demanding. At the same time, however, BlueStacks also needs to run alongside other Windows or Mac applications so it can't really hog all the resources.

BlueStacks 5 tries to deliver its promise of speed by reducing the bloat of the system and also use as little computer resources as possible, like reducing its RAM usage by 40%. Simplifying the user interface and streamlining features also help reduce the app's bloat. A new Eco mode was also introduced to throttle the frame rate of other BlueStacks instances running in the background to avoid bogging down the computer.

For all its promised upgrades, however, there is one thing that BlueStacks has strangely held back on. According to Android Authority, BlueStacks 5 is still based on Android 7.1.2 Nougat, a version of Android released more than four years ago. Given how many modifications BlueStacks probably made on top of it, it's not exactly surprising it couldn't move forward though it's still a disappointing revelation.

BlueStacks 5 is currently still in Beta but can already be downloaded for Windows and macOS. The Android emulator is still limited to supporting x86/x64 computers, however, and the promised ARM support, especially for the Apple M1, is still nowhere to be seen.