Microsoft is testing Android 12.1 and other improvements for Windows 11

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It looks like Microsoft isn’t resting on its laurels when it comes to the system that allows Windows 11 to run Android apps. The Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) is an optional component of Windows 11 that lets you run Android apps on a Windows PC. To do this, Microsoft installs a full Android operating system in a virtual machine and configures it so that you can launch and use Android apps almost as if they were native Windows apps.

When the Windows Subsystem for Android launched in 2021, this virtual machine ran Android 11. Today, Microsoft began rolling out a new version of Windows Subsystem for Android to members of the Windows Insider Program, and this time it is based on Android 12.1 (also known as Android 12 L). The good news is that this means Android apps that rely on newer Android APIs should be able to work. Some Android 12 features, like visible notifications that let you know when an Android app is using your device’s microphone or location, are also included you’ll see these icons in the Windows taskbar.

The less good news is that this is a preview release for beta testers and there are some known bugs some apps that worked on earlier versions of the WSA may no longer work properly and there may have jitter when printing from an Android app or when trying to use an Android app to interact with a camera on a PC with an ARM processor.

Some Novelties

In addition to the upgrade to Android 12.1, the latest version of WSA brings: Advanced networking and lets you connect to other devices on the same network as your Windows PC to do things like play music on a smart speaker or use a security camera or other home devices connected The Settings app has been redesigned, which means the user interface has been cleaned up, settings groups have been refined, and you can view diagnostic data collected by WSA Diagnostic data collection: is now disabled by default Improvements to the Camera app mean that camera orientation should be applied correctly and you should see fewer bugs with camera previews and capturing images Input device enhancements include better support for scroll wheels and a built-in keyboard Hardware video decoding for VP8 and VP9 is now supported Chromium WebView has been updated to version 100 According to Microsoft, users should also see an improvement in overall stability, performance, and reliability with the exception of a few known issues.

So far, the new version of WSA is only available to Windows Insider Program users who are running Dev Channel preview builds of Windows 11, build 22621 or later, but I believe the update will eventually do its appearance on the beta channel, the release preview channel and eventually to stable builds of Windows 11.

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