It seems that Microsoft is not resting on its laurels when it comes to the system that allows Windows 11 to run Android applications: on Friday the company announce update which upgrades the version of Android running on your computer and helps applications feel more comfortable running on a computer. The Windows subsystem update for Android is currently only available for testing for Windows Insiders, but that’s probably a good thing for reasons we’ll cover in a moment.

The title enhancement is an update to the version of Android that underpins Windows’s ability to launch mobile apps. The current public version seems to use Android 11 (based on some prompts I made using developer tools), but the version that Microsoft is testing runs on Android 12.1, also known as Android 12L. This effectively means that if you have something other than a recent Pixel, your computer can run a newer version of Android from your phone.

The update also brings improvements to how Android apps integrate with Windows. Pop-up messages from applications may appear as Windows notifications now, and the taskbar will be able to show if an Android app has access to your microphone or location. The company also says that Android apps should behave better after waking your computer from standby mode. Instead of restarting, they should simply continue from where they left off.

Microsoft also says it’s completely redesigned the settings app you use to manage the Windows subsystem for Android, group the settings together, and provide a “comprehensive cleaner user experience.” It has also made various improvements to the way Android apps can access your computer’s camera and even improved networking capabilities so you can set up smart home devices using an Android app running on your computer.

While this all sounds like a big improvement, you may want to give up trying to use the feature yourself right now. On the one hand, it is currently being distributed on the Dev channel, which is the most secure edge of Windows Insider rings. (Which means you’re more likely to encounter bugs and crashes outside of Android apps.) At this point, Microsoft warns that upgrading to Android 12.1 “may cause some apps to fail.” Maybe this is not super surprising, considering how rude it was to launch Android 12 on phones. The company says it is working with partners “to resolve these issues as soon as possible,” so we hope it will stand up before it reaches consumers.

Even if the update isn’t completely baked yet, it’s good to see that Microsoft actually gives a little love to Android apps on the Windows feature. He could easily imagine it as something cool coming with Windows 11, start it, and think the project was more or less complete. However, the fact that we are seeing big changes in it makes it seem that Microsoft is committed to the feature at the moment. If he really wants to have a first-class experience, he’ll have to come up with a much easier way to download apps from the Google Play Store instead of the far more limited selection of the Amazon Appstore.

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