Android-Powered GamePop Console Will Run iOS Games


This winter, a new console called the GamePop will allow you to play your favorite Android games on your high-definition television. But that’s not all you’ll be able to play. Creator Bluestacks has today announced that the GamePop will also run iOS games, and a number of big iOS developers have already signed up to support it.

The GamePop won’t be the first console to bring Android games to your TV, but it is the first promising iOS support. So how does it work? Well, it’s not quite as simple as grabbing your favorite iOS game out of your iTunes library and copying it over to your GamePop.

The titles still require some input from their developers, so not every iOS game will automatically be supported. First they will need to be modified slightly to run on Bluestacks’ Looking Glass platform, which mimics Apple’s iOS APIs to communicate with iOS apps.

“Looking Glass works at the API level — it’s not quite virtualization or emulation as you’ve known it,” said Rosen Sharma, the company’s CEO, in an interview with The Verge. “We recreate the API that iOS provides, but we don’t use any Apple bits to do it. So we skip iOS altogether.”

“Literally all developers have to do is change their payments backend so it works with our subscription model and that’s it. They don’t have to do anything else to their games,” he added.

You can expect to see titles from Subatomic Studios (the team behind Fieldrunners), Glu, Halfbrick, Jawsfish Games, and Gameloft initially. And Bluestacks insists that it is seeing strong interest from iOS developers, so that list of names could be even longer by the time the GamePop goes on sale.

The company is promising a catalog of 500 top mobile games from Android and iOS from day one, and you’ll be able to play each and every one of them for $6.99 a month.

That’s right — the GamePop will come with a subscription. Rather than selling you games one-by-one, you’ll pay a monthly fee for the ability to play as many as you like, as often as you like. For big gamers, it’s likely to be a significantly cheaper approach.

It’ll be interesting to see how well the GamePop plays iOS games, and indeed Android titles as well, when it comes out. Other consoles that have already attempted to bring this functionality to TVs — such as the Ouya — have been disappointing.

But Bluestacks is working hard to ensure that it doesn’t repeat the same mistakes. “We don’t want to be Dreamcast or Wii U,” Sharma said.

We don’t know much about the GamePop at this point, because Bluestacks is keeping most of the details close to its chest. We don’t even know what the controller will look like, but Bluestacks says it’ll be designed to work seamlessly with touch-based games.

It’s also unclear if GamePop is doing anything illegal by running iOS apps on an non-iOS device. Sharma insists that by mimicking the iOS APIs, the company is doing nothing wrong; “it’s all squeaky clean,” he says. But whether Apple will feel the same way remains to be seen.