You probably know it by now, but it's officially possible to run Android apps in Windows 11 via the Amazon App Store. Though Microsoft only intended this to be used in the Beta branch of the Windows Insider program, since Android is open-source, people have already done some cool if unofficial stuff.
We did some digging and have a look at all those things, and some more. But, be warned we can not be responsible for damages to your PC if you try any of the tricks or hacks mentioned in the threads that we're sharing.
Sideloading "unauthorized" Android apps
Figured out how to sideload Android apps in Windows 11 via adb & the Windows Subsystem for Android & the Aurora app store. Instagram runs perfectly. Chrome does not. Teams & lots of MSFT apps install. Mind-blowing you can do all this natively on Windows now. Windows 11 is awesome pic.twitter.com/ORsYgWnH31
— Arif Bacchus (@abacjourn) October 20, 2021
Due to the open-source nature of Android, and the way the Windows Subsystem for Android is designed, it's technically possible to go beyond the 50 Android apps available for testing in the Amazon App Store. By using Google's adb developer tools and a command prompt to sideload the Aurora app store's APK file, you can get a lot of extra Android apps in Windows 11.
We tried apps like Instagram, Teams, Google Photos, Netflix, and more, and all the apps worked fine. However, apps that depend on Google Play Services (like Chrome, or Snapchat,) won't work since the Windows Subsystem for Android doesn't have those files. There's also currently a GitHub page that tracks which apps work in WSA and which do not, so check it out!
Using the Amazon App Store in the Windows Insider Dev Channel
Next up is a Redditor that did the impossible. With a few simple steps, this person was able to install and use the Amazon App Store in the Dev Channel of the Windows Insider Program. Microsoft only intended Android apps to work in the Beta channel of Windows 11 (citing that it represents the version of Windows 11 that had just been released,) but that didn't stop this Redditor. By manually capturing and downloading the Amazon App Store Microsoft Store files from online and also running a command in Windows Terminal, you can get the feature running on a Dev Channel PC.
Bypass the Amazon account and US-only restriction
Another Redditor managed to bypass the Amazon account and US-only restriction of the Android apps in Windows 11. With this method, you can't use the Amazon Appstore, but you can still get the core Windows Subsystem for Android, and use it to sideload apps (as we mentioned at the top of this piece.) The process involves downloading the Windows Subsystem for Android files on the side as an app bundle and then updating it in the Microsoft Store.
Benchmark: Windows Subsystem for Android performance is 85% that of Windows 11
Curious about the performance of the Windows Subsystem for Android? One Redditor ran benchmark tests. The WSA scored a 997 Single-Core score, and a 3122 Multi-Core score. Meanwhile, native Windows 11 scored 1181 on Single-Core testing, as well as 3682 on Mult-Core testing. That's around 80% or 85% of the native CPU performance. Quite surprising, considering that the WSA is essentially a virtual machine.
Using Android Teams in favor of Electron Teams on Windows 11
Microsoft be like, I heard you like Teams, so I put Teams in your Teams. Running Teams in Windows 11 as an Android app is quite pleasing. The Android apps feels faster than the native Electron desktop app! It even has the ability to reply to notifications! pic.twitter.com/FyNO3daubE
— Arif Bacchus (@abacjourn) October 21, 2021
The age-old problem with Microsoft Teams on Windows is the performance. The current electron-based desktop client is known to be a resource and performance hog. However, you can sideload the Microsoft Teams app via Aurora for a better experience. We tried it, and things do seem a lot snappier and faster when compared to the native Windows app.
Playing two versions of Minecraft
This one is fun! Thanks to the ability to sideload Android apps, you can now run two versions of Minecraft side by side in Windows 11. This Redditor managed to sideload the Android version of the hit-game and opened up the Windows version alongside the Android version. Quite fun!
Using Android TV apps in Windows 11
Since Android TV is based on Android, you can run Android TV apps in Windows 11! This Redditor was able to get Smart YouTube TV working, as well as Aptode TV, which is an alternative app store for Android TV. We don't see why you would want to do this, since you can access YouTube in the web browser, but it is pretty cool to see TV apps running on Windows
Using an Android launcher to gain and access more system information
Another cool thing people have done is install Android launchers on the Windows Subsystem for Android. This is a bit odd, as there's no functionality to the launcher itself, but it does allow you to open a settings app and see more information about the Subsystem itself via a settings app.
What will you do?
This is just one quick look at some of the things people have been doing with the Windows Subsystem for Android. We'd love to hear what your thoughts are. Drop us a comment below, as we're planning to discuss Android apps in Windows 11 in this week's OnPodcast episode.