Android Apps Hit Windows 11 – It Wasn’t Worth The Wait

The ability to run Android apps was one of the main features when Windows 11 was first announced in Summer 2021. A year after the release of Windows 11, they’ve finally arrived in the first major update of the operating system. I’m sorry to say this, but it wasn’t worth the wait.

Everything about the implementation of Android apps in Windows 11 is cumbersome. Finding them, installing them, how many apps fail to be used on a PC instead of a smartphone. But perhaps worst of all is that — at least for now — there’s almost nothing worth even installing.

pain in the store

Android apps are currently “pre-tested” in a number of regions around the world, including the US and UK. They are only available to those who have installed the 2022 update, previously known as 22H2.

MORE FROM FORBES5 great new Windows 11 features coming this month

The Android apps are provided through the Amazon Appstore, not Google Play, and this has a massive impact on the range of apps available, which we’ll get to in a moment. It also affects the way these apps install and behave.

When you first try to install an Android app from the Windows Store, two things happen: Windows spends a few minutes downloading and installing the Windows Subsystem for Linux, and then the Amazon Appstore.

After that, every time you click to install an Android app, you’ll be taken to the Amazon Appstore – even if the app is free.

Not only is it a bad user experience, but it throws other practical obstacles in the way. You need an Amazon account to log in to the Appstore; You also can’t pay for Android apps with your Microsoft account, payments are processed by Amazon.

When the apps are finally installed, at first they appear to behave like regular Windows Store apps. They appear in the Start menu and can be pinned to the taskbar. They can be snapped to different parts of the screen, run in full-screen mode, or in a resizable window. They can be uninstalled from the same settings menu as any other app on the PC.

However, church- and state-like divisions soon appear. For example, I downloaded the PDF Viewer and Reader app and used the app’s “Folder” view to try to find a PDF file stored on my computer, but it can only search within the Android subsystem – the main file system and the document folders of Windows are taboo. Likewise, you cannot, for example, drag a PDF file from your desktop into the Android app. It just doesn’t work.

There may be good security reasons for this, but it’s a disaster for user experience.

Wrong shape and size

Then we come to the bigger problem with Android apps on big screens – they often look ugly. Android tablets have long struggled with apps designed only for smartphones, and the situation hasn’t improved much since Android app support was added to Chromebooks.

Some of the apps I installed – Tracker24, BBC News, Podcast Addict – were obviously mobile apps designed for the big screen. They were functional, but no thought was given to reformatting these apps to take advantage of larger displays. In the case of BBC News, this is a far less satisfying experience than simply visiting the BBC News website in a browser.

App developers have to put in more effort if they want users to use their apps on Windows.

Dark choice

Finally, we come to the selection of available apps. Microsoft has had more than a year to cheer developers up, and if that’s all it’s managed to get on board for launch (albeit in “preview” form), it might as well give up now.

Almost all Android apps that I use on my phone every day are not in the Amazon Appstore for Windows. Big name apps are very hard to come by, especially in the games section where Stardew Valley is the most popular app I could find. And that’s been available on Windows for years.

Just take a look at the “recommended apps” in the Amazon Appstore (above) to get an idea of ​​how depressing the app selection is. We’ve waited a year for the arrival of Android apps, and Solitaire and FreeCell – both preinstalled in Windows for over 20 years – are considered highlights? Serious? This is the best you have?

Microsoft has long struggled to get people interested in the Windows Store. According to this evidence, adding Android apps won’t make any difference.

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