Microsoft announced Windows 11 alongside a bazillion new features today, but by far the most surprising of these was the introduction of Android apps to Windows — no thanks to Google, apparently.
Yes, you read that right. Android apps will be available right through the Microsoft Store, which will pull Android apps via the Amazon Appstore. (If you’re wondering why Amazon has an app store, it’s for its Fire tablets and streaming devices, which don’t use Google services).
These apps will, theoretically, be able to run on your PC just like any other app. While UI elements don’t appear to be fully resizable, you will still be able to arrange the app windows using the new Snap Layout feature.
The apps run using Intel Bridge technology, which basically translates Android apps to work on x86 devices, although how smoothly they perform remains to be seen. Moreover, Intel has confirmed to The Verge that the feature will work with AMD and ARM devices as well.
It’ll be interesting to see how well Android apps run on Windows devices. Microsoft’s Panos Panay claimed the technology will be “seamless and smooth,” but the proof is in the pudding. Microsoft did show off TikTok running on Windows, so I guess that’s something.
The fact that Microsoft is using the Amazon store is interesting, although it means you likely won’t be able to run apps that rely heavily on Google services.
It also makes me a little wary of the feature, as I can’t imagine Google is very happy about it, and I’m wondering if the company might seek a way to retaliate by making it more difficult for Android apps to run on other devices in the future. Android app compatibility is one of the selling points for Chrome OS, after all.
Still, it means that Windows 11 will instantly gain a huge range of apps, certainly more than what the Microsoft Store currently offers. Let’s hope they run well enough to be useful.