If you are not familiar with WhatsApp, it is a great texting app that allows you to communicate free to other people all over the world that also have the WhatsApp application installed on their cellphones. I say free with one caveat. The first year is free, but after that, it is 99 cents a year.
If you want a method to communicate with people in other countries, or want to stay in touch with people back home when you are traveling abroad, this app works great. It is a full communication platform because it allows you to send text messages, photos and videos and record audio which is then sent to an individual in your contact list.
In February of 2014, WhatsApp was purchased by Facebook for almost $19 billion. That was the first time that many people in the United States had ever heard of the company, however, it has been popular for a number of years in South America and Europe in particular.
It remains to be seen what Facebook is actually going to do with the popular app or if there will be any ads or price increases added for use.
The only requirement to use WhatsApp is that you need a smartphone capable of installing apps and sending text messages through a data plan.
However, if you do not have a cellphone capable of doing this, or you don’t want to subscribe to a costly data plan, there is one other option for you to use WhatsApp. You will not have total mobility that a cell phone and plan provides, but you will be able to use the application as any normal user would.
Using WhatsApp on a PC
Last year before I got the latest iPhone, I was without a smartphone and data plan, but I needed to use WhatsApp to communicate with some people overseas.
After doing a little research, I found a method to use it on my computer at home. It involves loading a piece of software called Bluestacks available free for download.
Bluestacks is a piece of software known as an Android emulator. What that means is that once you install software like this, it allows you to open the emulator and run Android based apps on your Windows computer system just like you would on an Android smartphone.
And when I say run Android apps, I mean everything, so if you have wanted to play Candy Crush but have been locked out, here is your chance to get in on that mind numbing game.Credit: Bluestacks http://www.bluestacks.com/
How to Install Bluestacks
The process to install the Bluestacks emulator is relatively painless. The download is available for free after locating it online with a simple search.
Click on the executable to launch the install wizard and it will only take seconds to get everything loaded. You will probably be given the option to install other programs along with the emulator. Skip those. All of them. In fact, if it gives you an option to custom install, select that. It will let you deselect all of the other programs you do not need.
Once loaded, you simply click on a Bluestacks icon on your desktop and a GUI type interface loads. From there, you can search for various Android apps within the system and load them on your emulator. The apps appear on the front of the GUI once installed. To run those apps, simply click the icons on the GUI and they will open in Bluestacks.
How Well Does it Work?
Well, it depends on your perspective. If you have nothing to run these apps on, then it works great because something is better than nothing.
I used Bluestacks for about 6 months before getting my iPhone last December. It worked great when I used it with WhatsApp.
Having used an iOS based smart phone for the last 6 months, I can tell you that apps run a little differently on Bluestacks than they do on a smartphone. By that I mean they look a little different
And of course, you will control games and other things differently than you would on a smartphone.
I did not use Bluestacks for anything other than using WhatsApp and for that, it worked great. It bought me enough time for me to decide that it was a great application and that I needed to finally jump on the smartphone bandwagon and get in the game.
If you are interested in installing and using WhatsApp, you will need to activate the service once you install it within Bluestacks, and for that you will need to associate a phone number that can accept text messages.
If you do not have that, all is not lost. Simply go to one of the free text for free based services online and they will assign you a number. Then you simply open that webpage to the text free service and receive your text code.
Some have reported online that is has issues with certain antivirus programs. Inevitably if you go online looking for reviews, you will run across several that say something like “Does Not Work” or “Don’t waste your time!”. However, you can find those kind of reviews for anything. Have you ever noticed that the internet brings out some of the most negative people?
I was reading one particular review once and the individual said it crashed their computer multiple times and that they had to run malware programs to finally uninstall everything.
As I said, I used it for 6 months and did not have issues on Windows 7 and the Norton Antivirus Suite from Comcast. Just do what I said earlier. Deselect other programs and do not let it install any add-ons because some of them may run in the background causing issues.
If you do run into an issue, the company that produces Bluestacks offers limited technical support. There are forums and FAQs available online, but honestly, you should not have an issue.
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(price as of Jul 1, 2015)