Windows 11 Can Sideload Any Android App, Says Microsoft Engineer
Updated: Aug 21, 2021
Microsoft revealed that it will be bringing Android apps to Windows 11 during its special Windows event on Thursday, 24 June 2021. Android apps will run natively on the latest version of the desktop platform and can be installed via the Amazon Appstore.
While Amazon’s repository of software is no slouch, it might not have all of the games and apps that Android users will want on their PC. So the announcement seemingly left some Windows users wondering whether other Android apps can also be sideloaded onto the platform.
Sideloading is the process of installing Android apps without using the official distribution channels for them, such as the Microsoft Store and the Amazon Appstore.
According to Microsoft engineer, Miguel de Icaza, you can indeed sideload Android apps on Windows 11. De Icaza is reportedly one of the engineers working on the project that will allow Android apps to run on Windows.
This means that you aren’t restricted to apps that are only available on the two aforementioned app stores. You’ll be able to download APK files, the default file format for Android apps, off of the internet and sideload them in Windows 11. Though how it will work remains unclear, as of now. Microsoft has yet to share details on the process of sideloading an app.
It’s worth pointing out that sideloading apps come with a couple of caveats. For one, there’s no assurance that it’s one hundred per cent safe and secure to install the app as, unlike the apps found on the Microsoft and Amazon app stores, APK files on websites might not be required to go through a certification process before being made available. The Microsoft Store and Amazon Appstore screens apps before putting them up for download, ensuring that they meet standards.
Another concern, as mentioned by XDA Developers, is that you won’t have access to Google services support and APIs on Windows 11, which you’ll need to install Google apps. If you do manage to install a Google app on your machine, it likely won’t function properly. Even apps that aren’t developed by Google can have problems if they are reliant on certain Google services or device permissions. Twitter, for example, supposedly works fine, but it most likely won’t be able to deliver push notifications.
Microsoft partnered with Intel to use the Intel Bridge system, a compiler that allows Android apps to run natively on the x86 platform. Despite Intel owning the system, Android apps on Windows is not exclusive to Intel CPUs. AMD and Arm-based CPUs will also benefit from this new compatibility feature, as announced by Microsoft.
This is not Microsoft’s first attempt at bringing Android apps to Windows. The company previously tried to do so through Project Astoria, an app emulator.
Microsoft is also adding a Widgets icon on the taskbar, which shows you news, weather, sports and other updates. It looks to be the same as the News and Interests panel from Windows 10, except that it has a new and redesigned UI.
Android apps on Windows, along with the other additions announced at the event, has bumped up the supported system requirements from the previous generation’s. To be able to upgrade to the new version, you’ll need a 64-bit CPU with at least two cores. Plus, it’ll also require at least 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.
Also, it’s worth noting that Microsoft has cut down the number of processors that are supported by Windows 11. Intel’s 6th- and 7th- as well as some older 8th-gen chips will no longer be supported. For AMD, meanwhile, Windows 11 will be ditching the A-series, FX-series, several Ryzen 1000 and almost all of the Ryzen 2000 processors. If your processor is among the ones that are no longer supported, don’t worry just yet. There’s a chance it could still work if the minimum requirements are met. Microsoft could also change the list down the line.
Microsoft is expected to release a Windows 11 preview next week, but it will not come with Android app support yet. The feature will be added later this year.
We’re excited to see Android apps hit Windows as it will make multitasking more enjoyable. For example, we can now work on, say, an Excel spreadsheet file while keeping TikTok and Instagram open on the side. We’re not afforded this much flexibility on mobile and tablet, or at least it’s not as easy to do it, so having it on a PC is definitely a big win.
Having mobile versions of apps in a PC can also streamline the workflow of content creators. For instance, we can now edit photos freely in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Premiere and upload them to Instagram directly. Similarly, we can edit videos in Adobe Premiere and DaVinci Resolve, then upload them to TikTok without having to switch devices or transfer files.
Written by Kyle Chua