Historically, Android apps have not done well on large displays. There’s a reason Google devotes so much of its time to trying to make tablets good again. From basic UI elements to poor app support, Android software has never been so fun on large tablets and Chromebooks.
Of course, Windows is an entirely different beast. When Microsoft last year announced support for Android apps for Windows 11, it wasn’t clear exactly what purpose they would serve. What gap could Android software fill in such a powerful platform with decades of support from developers? It turns out that the answer is still largely unclear.
Experience the Amazon Appstore
It could feel like the entire internet — or tech geeks, anyway — collectively rolled their eyes last summer during Microsoft’s launch event for Windows 11. When Android app support was unexpectedly announced as an addition to Microsoft’s latest operating system, it was A huge surprise, a moment that I felt could mean something new and exciting for the future of the ever-blooming partnership between Google and Microsoft. When Amazon’s role in this was revealed, it was like a balloon slowly shrinking into nothing.
The initial Amazon Appstore was revealed last June.
It may sound dramatic, but in the near decade since its launch, Amazon’s App Store has gone from an interesting competitor to the Play Store to one that’s also run primarily on the company’s lineup of inexpensive tablets. Many of the most popular apps you might want to run in 2022 don’t exist, and when you find a service you’re looking for, it’s often outdated or abandoned compared to its Play Store counterpart. And the Amazon Appstore on Windows 11 doesn’t have the entire app library, so you’re dealing with a smaller collection than you might otherwise handle.
The Amazon Appstore doesn’t come with Windows 11 by default, but anyone in the US can download it by heading to the Microsoft Store on their device. It’s as simple as installing any other native Windows app – a good start to being able to engage your users. Unfortunately, it is not clear when it will reach users in regions outside the United States. You’ll need an Amazon account to sign in, of course, but the service itself is free.
It might be easy to install, but I found browsing and using the service unsurprisingly mediocre. I’m testing this app store on a gaming laptop, but for some reason the app store felt sluggish, taking seconds to load every page and drop frames when the home screen logo was changing slides. The storefront itself is abstract, offering only two basic categories along the left panel and a basic search bar along the top.
As for app selection, it’s as bad as you might have guessed from the jump. Forget the Google apps, they’re obviously not on the Fire TV, and they’re not here. TikTok has been featured mostly on Microsoft’s press photos for the Appstore since it was announced, and for good reason: It’s the only major social network with a list. Forget Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – you’re stuck with TikTok if you want to experience the social side of the web.
Amazon’s “highest paying” games.
The games are not much better. Looking at the top-grossing titles, I only recognized a couple of names – that’s because I knew the Nickelodeon properties they were based on – not the games themselves. Free titles haven’t been much better; You’ll find the Subway Surfers series and the Talking Tom series, but not much more than that. None of our favorite free titles appeared in the search: Neither Us, Call of Duty Mobile, or Roblox.
Sure, you can fill in all of these absences elsewhere on Windows 11. Many of these titles have versions on Steam or the web — you don’t need an Android version of us to play on Windows. The same goes for those missing apps, from Google services to social networks for recipe apps and smart home controls. Gmail isn’t hard to access these days, even if it’s not in a dedicated app, and it all begs the question: Why does this service even exist?
If Android apps provide a good experience on Windows, that would be a great answer for us. The windows dedicated to apps and services are great; Not everyone wants to do everything inside their PC stuck in one browser window. Unfortunately, Android apps are notorious for poor big screen support — which is why Android 12L exists, after all. So when I opened the Washington Post app on my computer (which is one of the few major services on the Appstore, thanks to the parent company), I wasn’t surprised to see a small window taking up less than a quarter of the screen. And I wasn’t shocked to find that it was asking me to “swipe to continue” on a device without a touch screen.
Look at all that wasted white space left and right.
Making these apps full screen simply expands the gray borders along the left and right, effectively giving you the same amount of screen space as your phone, only longer. It’s not very useful for this kind of experience, and in a world where The Washington Post is on the web, it’s not clear why you’d want to run the mobile app instead. However, Amazon has put it front and center on the homepage, giving it the advantage of billing as a one-stop service for you You have to try.
Between the lack of options and limited use cases, I really struggled to figure out what I was supposed to get from Android apps on Windows 11. When Google added the Play Store to Chromebooks, it had a much wider selection, along with a real reason to move to mobile apps. Windows has countless third-party apps, which are available either on the web or through the Microsoft Store. It has games too, whether you’re streaming via Stadia or downloading Elden Ring on Steam.
It’s a bad enough experience to make you wonder why it’s there – something I really wish sideloading would guide me. These are Android apps, after all, like that a path You can find a way to get around arbitrary constraints like limited selection of the app.
Sideloading APKs on Windows 11
If you can get the Amazon Appstore on your device, setting up the option to sideload apps quickly with just double-clicking on an APK file is quick and easy. Once you install WSA PacMan on your PC, you open your world to anything found on sites like APK Mirror. Go ahead and get Wyze, Alto’s Adventure, or Gmail — although you may need to have Google Play Services installed on your computer to get it working, just as you would with a Fire Tablet.
For the tech savvy among us, it’s a fun exercise. For others, it’s a tough pass. Any sideloaded app on your PC will suffer from the same issues as the official Appstore apps. Missing controls, inappropriate directions and layouts, huge borders along the sides – it’s all here. It is also not easy to browse the apps on sites like APK Mirror. It makes sense – those sites weren’t built for app discovery, after all – but when looking at the site as a way to make up for how disappointing the Appstore is, it struggles to offer a good alternative.
Wyze default size after installation.
Sideloading on Windows 11 Act It gave me one moment in which I felt I had found a real benefit to this service. Downloading the latest version of the Wyze APK from APK Mirror allowed me to view my security cameras and control the lights right from my laptop. Sure, my phone was always close at hand, but I can imagine installing and using Wyze on my computer all day, flipping on the lights as the sun finally sets, or checking who’s at the door when I hear a knock during a meeting.
This isn’t quite full screen, but it’s close enough.
I’m still not sure if the use case is enough to actually use it on a regular basis. If Wyze announced a web app tomorrow, I would never open the Android version again, letting it rot away on my laptop before I finally remembered to uninstall it. and she a The reason, as frustrating as it can be to rely on sideloading APKs to get there, is definitely an upgrade on Windows 10.
At the end of the day, I’m not sure there’s much reason for anyone other than a enthusiast to try out Android apps on Windows 11. Most users will only experience the Amazon Appstore library, which lacks depth and well-known names. that is Act Taking the extra steps to install WSA PacMan on their PC will have them underused and polished.
There is no doubt that it is a great gimmick, and running some classic Android software on your laptop can be a neat party trick. But in general, stick with existing software that you already trust. Whether it’s custom apps or a basic bookmark in your browser, it will probably work better.
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