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 being tested for users in the United States and only certain machines that meet the system requirements can take advantage of it.
If you’re outside of the United States, you can still use Windows 11’s underlying Android subsystem engine, which is maintained through the Microsoft Store, to sideload and run mobile apps on the desktop. At least now we can see that Microsoft is actively working on the project and a new update is rolling out with a few new features.
A new update raises the version of Windows Subsystem for Android to 2204.40000.15.0 and includes a number of important improvements. As part of the new version, Microsoft is updating the underlying engine to Android 12.1. In other words, Windows 11 can now take advantage of the latest Google technologies.
After upgrading to Android 12.1 you won’t notice any changes right away and more details will be published a little 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 telemetry collection by default. This option can be found as an “optional diagnostics” 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 network experience for Android System that makes it easy to connect Android apps to devices on the same network as your desktop.
This makes it possible to play your favorite content on a speaker on the same network. Likewise, you can use a smart home Android app and set up a security camera through Windows.
Redesigned settings page
Microsoft has redesigned the app that allows you to manage the Android subsystem settings.
The settings page now uses a new grouped navigation and has been redesigned from the ground up.
The update also added a diagnostic data viewer that allows you to review the diagnostic data collected by the subsystem. You can use it to force apps to be non-customizable or enable swiping for arrow keys.
Windows 11 integration
Microsoft is improving integration between Android apps and Windows 11. For example, taskbar icons can now display apps that use microphone, location, and other system services in the system tray.
Likewise, if you use Windows 11’s auto-hide taskbar, you’ll notice that Android apps are now hidden/displayed correctly. There’s another change that causes Android toasts to show up as Windows notifications on Windows 11, and the Android activity title is also highlighted by the app’s Window.
Here is a list of other new features and improvements:
- This update prevents Android apps from restarting when your desktop leaves connected standby.
- Microsoft improves 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 fixed letterboxing and squishing of the camera feed.
- Microsoft improves mouse and keyboard support. You’ll notice that scrolling with the scroll wheel has been improved, and Microsoft has also fixed issues with the focus on the on-screen keyboard and Android’s built-in software keyboard.
- Simpleperf CPU profiler capture now works in WSA.
- New video hardware decoding (VP8 and VP9).
- It now uses Chromium WebView 100 for Android apps.
- Improved overall stability, performance and reliability
Microsoft reminds us that these new features are powered by the Windows subsystem for Android and that the update is only available to Dev Channel users, and will likely be made available to the general public soon.