Tuesday, June 28, 2022
How-tos

Windows 11’s Android Apps Are About to Get a Lot Better


Windows 11 wallpaper with Android robot.

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

Microsoft is now rolling out an update for the Windows Subsystem for Android on the Dev Channel of the Windows Insiders program. The new version upgrades the core operating system from Android 11 to Android 12.1 (also known as Android 12L), which means the new system and app features in Android 12 and 12.1 are now available on Windows for the first time. However, not the new features in those updates apply to the modified version that runs on top of Windows. For example, one of the main improvements in 12.1 was a dual-pane notification panel for larger screens, but Android app notifications on Windows just show up in the Windows notification panel.

The upgrade also improves how Android apps integrate into Windows. The Windows taskbar will now show which Android apps are currently using the microphone, location, and other system services — similar to many native Windows applications. Toasts messages (the small popups that some apps use for temporary messages) are now displayed as Windows notifications, and the titlebar on Android apps will use the current activity name for the title.

There are a few other minor fixes, too. Mouse and keyboard support has been improved (specifically with keyboard focus and scroll wheels), the camera isn’t quite as buggy, and apps won’t be fully restarted when your PC comes out of connected standby.

The Windows Subsystem for Android Settings app has received an overhaul alongside the core system upgrade. Microsoft said in a blog post, “We’ve redesigned the app from the ground up, now with clearer settings groups, grouped navigation and an all-around cleaner user experience. We’ve also added a diagnostic data viewer where you can examine all the diagnostic data collected by the Subsystem, and configuration options in the new compatibility settings to turn on fixes for specific apps such as forcing apps to be non-resizable or enabling swipes for arrow keys.”

Full changelog

  • Windows Subsystem for Android updated to Android 12.1
  • Advanced networking on by default for newer x64 Windows builds
  • Updated Windows Subsystem for Android Settings app: redesigned UX and diagnostics data viewer added
  • Simpleperf CPU profiler recording now works with Windows Subsystem for Android
  • Windows taskbar now shows which Android apps are using microphone and location
  • Improvements to Android app notifications appearing as Windows notifications
  • Reduced flicker when apps are restored from minimized state
  • Apps are not restarted when devices come out of connected standby on recent Windows builds
  • New video hardware decoding (VP8 and VP9)
  • Fixes for on-screen keyboard in apps
  • Fixes for full screen Android apps and auto-hidden Windows taskbar
  • Windows Subsystem for Android updated with Chromium WebView 100
  • Added support for Android NetworkLocationProvider in addition to GpsLocationProvider
  • Improved general stability, performance, and reliability

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

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

Source: Windows Blog





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