Microsoft Windows subsystem for Android is making slow progress

Microsoft has released several Windows fixes for Android on Windows 11. But there is still a long way to go to get a meaningful view.

Microsoft Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) Android 12.1 has been updated and brings improvements to Android integration with Windows, networking, the camera in apps, the Settings app, and more.

Android on Windows has been an overkill but slow, launching with Windows 11 in October with very few apps coming out of the way. Amazon Appstore must be installed. Microsoft released 1,000 additional games and apps for regular users in February, but there are minimum hardware requirements and the Amazon Appstore is still only available in the US.

Regardless of the current limitations, Microsoft continues to invest in Android integration with Windows 11, as evidenced by the WSA update of Windows 11 (version 2204.40000.15) to Android 12.1, which is available to Dev Channel Insiders, according to the Microsoft blog. WSA was introduced with Android 11.

Microsoft has improved networking in the Windows subsystem for Android, allowing Android apps to connect to devices on the same network as a Windows PC. Advanced connectivity allows users to set up smart home devices such as speakers and security cameras using a compatible Android app. This feature is available in Windows 11 Preview builds 22621 and later, with advanced networking enabled by default in new Windows x64 builds.

Android-Windows integration has also been improved. Windows taskbar icons now display Android apps that are currently using hardware features such as microphone and taskbar location.

The taskbar is also now properly shown or hidden when launching or exiting applications. Android notifications also appear as Windows notifications, and the Windows address of the Android app now matches the address of the Android activity. Android apps no longer restart after exiting online sleep mode, but instead you can specify where to pause the app.

Among the “several camera updates” in this release, Microsoft highlights that camera orientation is fixed to normal and that incorrect camera previews, letterboxing (where the app window is wider than it is or longer horizontally) and “fixed camera age feeds.”

Mouse and keyboard input has been improved in the Windows subsystem for Android. Microsoft has also improved scroll wheel support, corrected on-screen keyboard focus, and ensured that Android’s soft keyboard was displayed correctly.

The updated Windows subsystem for the Android Settings app has received a redesigned user experience and diagnostic data display. Starting with this update, group telemetry is disabled by default. However, Microsoft encourages users to turn on the setting so that it can collect data about Android app usage.

Other notable updates include reducing flickering when restoring apps from a minimized state, adding VP8 and VP9 video hardware decoding, and adding Chromium WebView 100 to the Windows subsystem for Android.

There are still some known issues including camera instability on Arm devices, shaky printing from Android apps, layout issues with apps rendered in low resolution, and some VPNs may not work with extended networks.

“Some previously available apps may be missing from the app, not launching, or not working properly due to various known issues. We are working with our partners to fix these issues as quickly as possible.”

It will likely be some time before more Android apps are available for Windows 11. Amazon is not currently accepting new orders to the Amazon Appstore for Windows 11 devices in the more than 1,000 apps selected for the program in February.

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