Microsoft is updating its Windows Subsystem for Android with new features and improvements. Launched with Windows 11 last year, the Subsystem allows you to run Android apps on your Windows PC. The new version, which is currently available in beta to Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel, enhances the functionality for a more native experience.
Microsoft improves Android experience on Windows
For starters, Microsoft is upgrading the experience to Android 12.1, aka Android 12L. The current public release of the Windows Subsystem for Android is reportedly based on Android 11. But the company is now testing the latest Android version that allows for several other improvements.
According to the company, Android apps can now connect to devices on the same network as your Windows PC. Thanks to improved Windows integration, you will be able to see which Android app is using your PC’s microphone or location services. You can also see all active Android apps in an auto-hidden taskbar. Moreover, notifications from Android apps will now show up as Windows notifications.
Earlier, when your PC came out of connected standby, active Android apps were restarted. This will no longer happen. Like native Windows apps, you will also be able to pick up Android apps where you left off. The Windows Subsystem for Android is getting some much-needed improvements to its handling of input devices as well. Using the mouse and hardware keyboard with Android apps should feel smoother now. On-screen software keyboard in Android apps will also work better.
Microsoft is also promising “many” camera improvements with this update. “The camera orientation is now fixed to natural orientation, and issues with incorrect camera preview, bugs with letterboxing, and squishing of the camera feed have now been addressed,” the company says.
Diagnostic data collection is now optional
Since the Windows Subsystem for Android is fairly new and has plenty of room for improvement, Microsoft wants to collect information about your usage and other diagnostic data. This telemetry collection was initially enabled by default. The latest update disables the feature by default but you can enable it from settings. A new diagnostic data viewer menu in the Android Settings app lets you see all the diagnostic data that the company is collecting from you. Microsoft has also redesigned the Settings app for a cleaner grouping and arrangement of menus.
Other new features and improvements that are part of this update for the Windows Subsystem for Android include support for VP8 and VP9 video hardware decoding, less flickering when restoring apps from the minimized state, and support for Chromium WebView 100.
However, there are a few known issues as well. Microsoft says printing via Android apps or using the camera on ARM devices may be unstable. Some VPNs may fail to work properly with Advanced Networking, while some apps may randomly disappear or fail to launch and function. The company assures that it’s working with partners to address the known issues as soon as possible.