Windows 11 will support installing Android apps outside the Amazon Appstore
When Microsoft announced Windows 11 yesterday, it confirmed the rumor that you’re going to be able to run Android apps on it. The company is making this happen by bringing the Amazon Appstore to the Microsoft Store. While partnering with Amazon is an easy way to populate the store with a directory of apps, it’s not the only way to get Android apps.
Unsurprisingly, you can install Android apps just like you can install any other kind of apps on Windows. There’s no need to get them from the Amazon Appstore; you can download an APK and install it.
— Miguel de Icaza (@migueldeicaza) June 25, 2021
Just note that you’re still not getting Google services support with Android apps on Windows 11. You can’t go and install Google Maps, or one of the many apps that rely on Google services to work properly. Sadly, there’s a wide variety of apps that use Google APIs. If you’ve ever used a phone without Google services, then you know that there are a lot of apps that will work, but won’t function 100% properly. For example, the Twitter app seems to work fine, but it won’t deliver push notifications (some would say that’s a feature, not a bug).
While Microsoft did confirm this yesterday, it’s also trying to add other storefronts to the Microsoft Store. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to add other Android shops; it’s unlikely that we’ll see the the Huawei AppGallery. We could see gaming stores though, such as Epic or Steam.
This isn’t Microsoft’s first attempt at Android apps on Windows. Windows 10 was going to have something called Project Astoria, which allowed Android apps to run in emulation. Project Astoria was killed off before Windows 10 actually launched, but it evolved into the Windows Subsystem for Linux, laying the groundwork for Project Latte, the codename for what’s happening with Windows 11 and Android apps.
But again, the foundation of Windows is that it’s open. You can choose to install apps from the Microsoft Store, or you can choose not to. Android apps are no different. They’re running on what’s called the Windows Subsystem to Android, similar to the Windows Subsystem for Linux, and that’s all that you need to run the apps. Android apps on Windows 11 are using Intel’s Bridge technology to run natively on x64 hardware, although they’ll run on all Windows 11 PCs. There are no arbitrary security lockdowns in place.
Android app support won’t ship in next week’s Windows 11 preview. That’s going to come later on this year.