Android apps for Windows 11 are about to get a lot better

The Windows subsystem for Android is an optional feature in Windows 11, which allows you to run Android apps and games alongside your other software. Microsoft is now testing a significant subsystem upgrade.

Microsoft is now rolling out an update to the Windows subsystem for Android on the Windows Insiders Dev channel. The new version upgrades the base operating system from Android 11 to Android 12.1 (also known as Android 12L), which means that new system and app features in Android 12 and 12.1 are now available on Windows for the first time. However, the new features in these updates do not apply to the modified version that runs on top of Windows. For example, one of the main improvements in 12.1 was a two-pane notification panel for larger screens, but Android app notifications on Windows only appear in the Windows notification panel.

The upgrade also improves how Android apps are integrated into Windows. The Windows taskbar will now display Android apps that are currently using your microphone, location, and other system services — similar to many native Windows apps. Toasted messages (small popups that some apps use for temporary messages) are now displayed as Windows notifications, and the address bar in Android apps will use the current activity name for the title.

There are some other minor fixes as well. Mouse and keyboard support has been improved (specifically with keyboard focus and scroll wheels), the camera isn’t completely buggy, and apps won’t fully restart when your PC comes out of connected standby.

Windows Subsystem for Android Settings app has received an overhaul along with a platform upgrade. In a blog post, Microsoft said, “We’ve redesigned the app from the ground up, now with clearer settings groups, bulk navigation, and a cleaner overall user experience. We’ve also added a diagnostic data viewer where you can inspect all the diagnostic data collected by the subsystem, and options Configure in the new compatibility settings to turn on fixes for specific apps such as forcing apps not to resize or enabling swipes for arrow keys.”

Full changelog

  • Windows Subsystem for Android Updated to Android 12.1
  • Advanced networking is turned on by default for newer Windows x64 versions
  • Windows Subsystem Update for Android Settings App: Added Diagnostic Data Viewer and Redesigned User Experience
  • Simpleperf CPU profile registration now works with Windows subsystem for Android
  • The Windows taskbar now shows Android apps that use your microphone and location
  • Improvements to Android app notifications appear as Windows notifications
  • Reduce flicker when restoring apps from minimized state
  • Apps don’t restart when devices come out of online standby in recent versions of Windows
  • New hardware video decoding (VP8 and VP9)
  • On-screen keyboard fixes in apps
  • Fixes for Android full screen apps and automatically hidden Windows taskbar
  • Windows subsystem for Android updated with Chromium WebView 100
  • Android NetworkLocationProvider support added in addition to GpsLocationProvider
  • Improve overall stability, performance, and reliability

The new update is limited to Windows Insiders for now, but once Microsoft has fixed all the bugs, it should start rolling it out to everyone on Windows 11 that has the Android subsystem enabled.

It’s impressive to see such rapid development on Android for Windows, especially considering that Android 12.1 only started rolling out to phones and tablets in March. Google’s Chrome OS still uses Android 11 to run mobile apps and the Play Store.

Source: Windows Blog

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