Microsoft has outlined the next big steps for Windows 11, and that includes Android apps coming to the OS next month, albeit still in testing.
Panos Panay, Chief Product Officer (Windows + Devices) at Microsoft, spilled all the details in a blog post, explaining first and foremost that there would be a public preview of Android apps in February.
If you’ve been following the progress of Windows 11, then you’ll realize that support for native Android apps arrived in testing for Windows Insiders (in the US) back in October 2021. A public preview means it’s come to the release version of Windows 11, but there may be some flakiness evident given that it is still in beta form.
Panay also highlighted various taskbar improvements, including “call mute and unmute, easier window sharing and bringing weather to the taskbar”, although of course we’ve already seen the latter happen in testing (the infamous weather widget returned with a preview build in December).
Finally, Panay mentioned that two core apps which have been redesigned, namely Notepad and Media Player, would both soon be debuting in the finished version of Windows 11.
The Chief Product Officer also revealed that with Windows now on some 1.4 billion devices across the globe, Microsoft has “seen strong demand and preference for Windows 11”, with users accepting the upgrade when offered at double the rate at which Windows 10 accrued new recruits. Although of course shifting from Windows 7 to Windows 10 was a much bigger change – Windows 11 is really quite similar to Windows 10, when you get down to it, so it’s less of a leap for folks to make.
Panay also observed that: “Windows 11 has the highest quality scores and product satisfaction of any version of Windows we’ve ever shipped.”
Analysis: Better late than never
Android apps were one of the big new features touted for Windows 11, but disappointingly didn’t turn up at launch (in fact, when they didn’t appear in later testing phases pre-release, it soon became clear enough that they wouldn’t arrive for kick-off). Better late than never, then, and it’s still exciting to finally get native Android apps on the Windows 11 desktop – even if the applications are limited to those delivered from the Amazon App Store (via the Microsoft Store).
The next step, of course, is not just these Android apps, but games from the Google Play Games store, which will be delivered to Windows 11 and 10 systems in the form of an app that’s due to arrive at some point this year. The idea is to be able to seamlessly switch between your phone and desktop with the progress you’ve made in whatever mobile game you’re playing maintained across platforms – pretty neat, huh?
It’s also good that more core Windows apps are getting the redesign treatment in Windows 11, and we’ve already seen the likes of the new Notepad in testing, complete with a Fluent Design makeover, dark mode compatibility, and more, making this dated application look a lot more at home in the new OS.
We can expect more of these default Windows 11 apps to benefit from an overhaul as the year rolls on, no doubt, although this piecemeal approach adds to the overall feeling of Windows 11 having been released very much as a work in progress.