That all sounds great in theory! Especially for people working from home who want to enjoy their favorite Android games on a larger screen, or for those who prefer to buy cheap Android phones and can use their superior PCs for better benchmarks. Learn from the ones who have been, done that. Know all you have to become a solid software engineer. But in practice, there’s plenty of reason to be skeptical. Android on Windows’ success will depend greatly on optimization, performance, and the selection of apps available. And both Microsoft and Google’s offerings could face speed bumps on the road to success.
In the year 2022, Android will take over Windows PCs. On Windows 11, Microsoft is now beta-testing 50 Android apps from the Amazon Appstore in preparation for a public rollout next year. Meanwhile, Google Play Games will be available on PCs next year. Android app compatibility is already available on Chromebooks, and Google reports that in 2021, Android app engagement in Chrome OS increased by 50%. However, Android on Windows 11 will allow developers and gaming companies to profit from PCs’ considerably higher market share — and bridge the gap on Apple’s massive in-app sales advantage.
Android (minus Google) has messy PC potential. Our colleagues at Windows Central have tested Android on Windows 11 and were generally quite impressed with its initial functionality. You can resize apps, pin them to the Taskbar, use Snap Layouts, and generally enjoy apps any way you want. It’s reminiscent of using apps in DeX mode on Samsung tablets. They did note that apps tend to use a healthy amount of memory, so just a few apps open at once could task your PC to capacity if you don’t have much RAM available. But it’s quite promising.
Apps on the Play Store use Google Mobile Services and Google Play Services. These keep apps updated with the latest security and privacy tools while also offering access to specific Google firmware and services. That means Android devs have to build and keep updated a second version of their app for Fire tablets and Windows. And many developers lack the resources or financial incentive to port their mobile-based software to larger screens and a smaller user base.
Unfortunately, either Google or Microsoft (or both) didn’t want to play ball with one another, so the Windows 11-Android integration uses the Amazon Appstore, not the Google Play Store. Only a few household-name apps like Kindle and Comixology are available through this Amazon Appstore beta; you’ll have to sideload Android apps on Windows 11 to get the most popular apps. And while a passionate minority of Android users love sideloading, rooting, and the like, most people will give up the moment an app doesn’t appear in search results.
Fire tablets get away with limited app availability because they’re so cheap and because people mostly buy them for streaming apps. But Android on Windows 11 can’t get away with that. Not being able to access your favorite apps on a thousand-dollar screen will have most people ignoring the app store in favor of browsers and bookmarked URLs. What gives me hope is that Microsoft and Amazon will want to make this service succeed so that they can get their own Android profits. They may even provide incentives for big-name devs to partner with them.