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Android applications on Windows have a lot to prove

After Windows 11 leaked almost a week before Microsoft’s launch event, many will be forgiven for there being no more surprises to come.

But that wasn’t really the case. While something of a buggy mess, u Windows 11 launch event presented lots that we didn’t know about already. Deeper teams integration, auto-HDR in the Xbox app and, without a doubt the most surprised, Android app support.

Android apps will run natively in Windows 11 when it launches in late 2021 and can be rolled out alongside other apps and targeted at the new central activity bar.

While you’d probably expect a partnership with Google to support all of this, it’s actually Amazon’s App Store that brings these Android apps to Windows.

Now, that sounds a lot on paper. You can find these apps directly from the Windows Store and while Amazon’s App Store doesn’t have the breadth of Google Play, there are also great services like Tik Tok and Uber to name just two.

But I’ve been excited about mobile apps on a laptop / desktop computer before, and I’ve had to learn the hard way that apps created for smaller screens don’t always translate well to the bigger screen.

Apple, for example, has allowed developers to launch iPhone and iPad apps on Macs powered by the M1 chip. You can also manage Android apps Chromebooks for a few years now – none of these solutions work very well.

I reviewed a couple of Mac M1s now, including the very good one iMac 2021, and I have little desire to use iPhone app for it after trying a few. First things are obvious: these apps are designed for small screens and those that have touch as the main input. They’re also too buggy, which is probably why a lot of developers skip this option altogether.

It’s a very similar story to Chrome OS. The apps here feel just as good for working on a larger display as they do on an iMac, and bugs are even more prevalent. It seems great to be able to use all these apps, but the reality is nothing feels good.

If Android Apps, via the Amazon App Store, are supposed to be anything more than a fancy feature to use in Windows 11 marketing, then these issues need to be fixed – and at this stage, it’s up to you if this will be the case.

What I like is how Microsoft plays on the fact that these apps are intended for smaller displays. The Tik Tok demo stuck side by side with another more traditional app makes sense and understands the size of the mobile app.

In an interview with In the Wall Street Journal, Panos Panay, Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer, said she was inviting other Android app stores into Windows, so there seems to be a strong focus going forward.

To make these apps work, Microsoft uses Intel’s Bridge technology, so it remains to be seen how much these features will have an impact on how an app works.

More apps on Windows is, of course, good news and the functionality so far looks good. But I haven’t yet been impressed by any other mobile app on either macOS or Chome OS so there’s still a lot to do to convince me this is the future.

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