The biggest surprise Microsoft had in store with Windows 11, was able to run Android apps on Windows 11, thanks to a partnership with Amazon. With this step, Microsoft dramatically improved the utility of the oft-maligned Microsoft Store. Yes, there are some decent apps in the Microsoft Store, however, there are way more Android apps you can choose from.
The update is finally here, albeit limited to US customers at the time of publication. This is our guide to help you set up with Android apps, whether you want to stick to the official method or you want to risk sideloading apps.
How to set up Android apps on Windows 11 device?
Thankfully, setting up Android compatibility is easy, if you’re only planning on trying officially-approved apps, that is. First, make sure your system is compatible. You will have to have at the minimum:
- 8 GB of RAM (16 GB would be recommended).
- You need to have a minimum of an Intel Core i3 8th Gen. AMD Ryzen 3000. Or Qualcomm Snapdragon 8c CPU.
- A 720p (1280 x 720) display.
- An SSD is required. Android apps aren’t compatible with old hard drives.
- Windows 11 build 22000.426 or higher.
- You also need to have the latest version of the Microsoft Store.
If your hardware is compatible most PCs that are running on Windows 11 should be fine. Then all that has to be done is to make sure you’re on the latest build of the OS as well as the Microsoft Store.
After that’s in order, head on over to the Microsoft Store, search for ‘Amazon Appstore Preview’, then install the software. This will also install the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA), the behind-the-scenes engine (which is powered by Intel Bridge technology) that allows all kinds of Android apps to run on Windows 11 comparatively smoothly.
Then search for ‘Amazon Appstore’ in your Start menu, open the app, then log in with (or create if you’re a newbie) your Amazon account. You will be able to see a curated selection of apps to choose from. The Amazon Appstore currently only offers about 1,000 apps & games. Most of them are rather basic, however, more are being added all the time.
How do Android apps compare to Windows apps?
Other than a different outlook, Android apps behave like any regular Windows app. They show up in the Start menu, they can be pinned there, or they can be pinned to your taskbar too. You can generally use your mouse, keyboard, or even the touch input to interact with these apps. They also are resized at will, although you should keep in mind many Android apps are not optimized to be used in landscape mode.
The main difference you will be able to notice is that when you open an Android app, you will have to wait for the Windows Subsystem for Android to load first. Which can be a little slow.
If you expect to be running Android apps often, head over to Windows Subsystem for Android Settings from the Start menu, under the section titled ‘Subsystem resources,’ click on ‘Continuous’.
This will keep WSA running in the background thus helping your apps load instantly. This could presumably cause the performance of your PC to take a hit.
Use the settings menu to view files associated with or downloaded by the Android apps, choose which GPU you’d like to power graphics, and enable developer mode. It’s necessary if you plan on sideloading apps.
How to install apps that aren’t on the Amazon Appstore?
Sadly, most of the officially-sanctioned apps aren’t exciting. As Google seemingly wasn’t involved in creating this new feature, you won’t be able to find anything that relies on Google services. Google is currently working on its method of bringing Android games to Windows, however, there’s no word on other kinds of apps.
It is recommended to stick to the official way of getting Android apps, the WSA allows you to run all sorts of apps on Windows 11. As anything that requires Google services won’t work without extensive workarounds. However, people have managed to successfully sideload a variety of unapproved Android apps onto Windows.
You should exercise an abundance of caution when you are sideloading apps. There is a good chance the app you’re trying to sideload will either act weird or won’t work at all.
There are many ways you could sideload Android apps, however, we are going to focus on the easiest method.
First things first, make sure you’ve enabled Developer Mode in WSA Settings, as noted earlier.
After that’s done, install WSATools from the Microsoft Store. This app does two things –
1) It installs the Android Debug Bridge (part of Google’s official developer toolkit). Which is required for sideloading apps.
Note – A few users have reported having trouble installing ADB from WSATools. If so, you can always download it manually from Google. As you have the ability to then point WSATools to wherever you extract the “platform-tools” folder from Google.
2) It allows you to install Android apps (.apk files) with one click. You don’t need to mess with the command line. You can find APKs for thousands of apps on sites like APKMirror as well as APKPure.
Once ADB is set up, point WSA Tools to your APK file, then it should install right away.
If for some reason WSATools isn’t able to install the APK try a similar app from the Windows Store. Or, you can do it the pro way if you’re comfortable with Command Prompt. XDA happens to have a great guide on how to sideload apps via ADB.
Hopefully, sideloading won’t be necessary in the coming future, as more developers will place their Android apps in the Amazon Appstore over the coming months. As the feature is open to the public. However, in the meantime, this guide should help get you out.
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