Big Picture: Windows 11 Insider Previews often hint at what features users can expect from Microsoft’s possible public release. Now, with the release of the first major feature update, Windows 11 users can finally access Android apps through the Amazon Appstore Preview if they’re in the US. Meanwhile, features being rolled out globally include several taskbar improvements, updated Notepad and media player apps, and more powerful Teams experiences.
Official support for Android apps in Windows 11 received a lot of attention during Microsoft’s presentation of the feature last year. However, this capability was conspicuously absent from the first official release of the OS, and so far it has only been found in Insider builds.
In his first major windows 11 updateMicrosoft has released this feature to the general public, albeit in limited numbers. First, it’s only available to US users, giving them access to over 1,000 Android apps and games from the Amazon AppStore.
The latter is also currently in Preview, which means more touches can be expected before a wider rollout to the global Windows 11 user base. What’s more, those who want to download the unpublished Android APKs can do so. now, after installing this update.
With this release, Microsoft also introduced two redesigned native apps: Notepad, which now comes with updated simplified menus, a dark theme, and several typing improvements; and the new Media Player, which replaces the Microsoft Groove music app and is designed to be used as a central hub for music and video.
In terms of taskbar improvements, the update brings back the weather widget, which now serves as the entry point for the Windows 11 widget bar. In the case of a center-aligned taskbar by default, this widget appears at the far left, while users with a left-aligned taskbar edge, find it to the right of the task view icon.
In addition, those with two or more monitors installed will now be able to view the date and time on all of their screens. Microsoft is also engaging Windows 11 users with exclusive improvements to the Teams app. Meetings held with the latter can now be instantly mute/unmute using the new microphone icon located on the taskbar.
In the meantime, the addition of window sharing allows users to quickly hover over any open application icon on the taskbar and share content with a couple of mouse clicks. Microsoft notes that these features are only available to Team users with a work or school account.
Windows 11 users can also expect additional feature updates outside of the annual release schedule. In addition to making the OS the best open platform for innovation, Microsoft says it’s also focused on making Windows the best place to play games and the gateway to the metaverse. What the latter entails remains to be seen.