Earlier this year, Windows 11 received support for highly
anticipated Android apps for those with supported hardware. As
you may recall, the ability to run Android apps is officially
provided by the Amazon App Store. It is currently in testing
for users in the United States, and
only certain machines that meet the system requirements can
benefit from it.
If you’re outside the United States, you can still use Windows
11’s underlying Android subsystem engine which is maintained
via the Microsoft Store to sideload and run mobile apps on the
desktop. Now, at least, we can see Microsoft is actively
working on the project and a new update is rolling out with a
few new features.
A new update bumps the version of Windows Subsystem for Android
to 2204.40000.15.0 and it includes several major improvements.
As part of the new version, Microsoft is updating the
underlying engine to Android 12.1. In other words, Windows 11
can now benefit from the latest Google technologies.
You won’t immediately notice changes after upgrading to Android
12.1 and more details will be published a bit later. However,
this change may cause some apps to crash on launch and
Microsoft is working on a fix.
In the new Windows Subsystem for Android, Microsoft has
disabled the telemetry collection by default. This option can
be found as an “optional diagnostic data” toggle in the Windows
Subsystem for the Android Settings app and users can enable it
to voluntarily provide useful telemetry about app usage.
A new networking experience
Microsoft is introducing a new networking experience for
Android System that lets you easily connect Android apps to
devices on the same network as your desktop.
As a result, it is now possible to play your favourite content
on a speaker on the same network. Likewise, you can use a smart
home Android app and set up a security camera via Windows.
Redesigned Settings page
Microsoft redesigned the app that lets you manage the settings
of the Android Subsystem.
The settings page now uses a new grouped navigation and it has
been redesigned from the ground up.
The update also added a diagnostic data viewer that lets you
monitor the diagnostic data collected by the Subsystem. You can
use it to force apps to be non-resizable or enable swipes for
Windows 11 integration
Microsoft is improving the integration between Android apps and
Windows 11. For example, taskbar icons can now display apps
that are using microphone, location and other system services
in the system tray.
Likewise, if you use Windows 11’s auto-hidden taskbar, you will
notice that Android apps now correctly hide/show. There’s
another change that ensures Android toasts are reflected as
Windows notifications on Windows 11, and the Android activity
title is also highlighted by Window of the app.
Here’s a list of other new features and improvements:
- This update prevents Android apps from restarting when your
desktop leaves the connected standby.
- Microsoft is improving camera integration in Android apps.
The camera orientation has been updated to respect the natural
orientation, and Microsoft has also fixed camera preview
issues, including a bug where the company has resolved
letterboxing and squishing of the camera feed.
- Microsoft is improving the mouse and keyboard support. You
will notice that scroll-wheel scrolling has been improved and
Microsoft has also fixed issues with onscreen keyboard focus
and Android’s built-in software keyboard.
- Simpleperf CPU profiler recording now works in WSA.
- New video hardware decoding (VP8 and VP9).
- It now uses Chromium WebView 100 for Android apps.
- Improved general stability, performance, and reliability
Microsoft reminds us that these new functionalities are driven
by the Windows Subsystem for Android and the update is live for
Dev Channel users only, presumably that will open up to the
general public soon.