How to Run Android Apps on a Windows PC
Running Android apps in Windows 11 is now about as easy as running apps on your phone.
Microsoft and Amazon have partnered to make thousands of Amazon-selected Android apps and games available to run as standalone programs in Windows 11.
In its current form, this feature is labeled as a preview, which leaves a little wiggle room for crashes, bugs, and glitches, if they pop up here and there. I’ve used it for a while, and the potential is definitely there.
I believe it will get even better. And if you’re looking for a fuller Android experience and are willing to work a little to set it up, stick around until the end of this article. I will tell you about another option. called BlueStacks.
Microsoft’s solution, however, is as simple as it gets for now. Here’s how to start.
Launch the Microsoft Store
You’ll need to open the Microsoft Store to then download the Amazon Appstore, which is a bit confusing – this whole process will ideally be simplified over time.
Open the Microsoft Store by clicking the Start button and searching for it. From there, search for “Android” or “Amazon” to find your way to the Amazon Appstore.
Click on the Amazon Appstore page and click Install.
The initial setup
The first time you launch the Amazon Appstore, you will be prompted to perform a one-time installation of some virtualization software. It’s basically infusing some Android-y underpinnings into Windows so that it can run Android apps reasonably gracefully.
Follow this process and you will be prompted to restart your computer. Once restarted, the Amazon Appstore should appear and you’ll come face to face with a bunch of apps.
It is more or less that. In a minute or two, you have your Windows 11 computer ready to run Android apps.
The real experience
Now, this being an overview, things are still a bit sparse. On the apps front, you’re basically presented with “Editor’s Choice” apps, kid-friendly stuff, and then a list of all apps and games with no ability to filter or sort. There also doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to how the full list is ordered, and games seem to outnumber other types of apps by an unbalanced amount.
Editor’s Choice was a measly 23 apps for me, but hopefully that will increase over time. There’s also a section dedicated to games, which is slightly more fleshed out but, again, it’s very much like an overview.
As for the apps themselves, they open in their own windows, just like PC apps. However, they are by no means optimized for the PC.
the Washington Post app, for example, loaded, welcomed me into its new tablet app, then advised me to pinch to zoom in on various stories. I haven’t figured out how to pinch with my mouse yet, but I guess I’ll keep working on it.
That said, it’s extremely simple to set up and seems to have some potential. It just needs time to cook some more.
Something a little more Android-y
For a more complete Android experience, I recommend a venerable free Android emulator called BlueStacks.
The setup is a little more complicated, but it’s not rocket science. You basically choose an Android device that you want to emulate from a list of popular phones and tablets and then you get access to . . . Well, Android. It is also available for Mac and earlier versions of Windows.
While the Windows route allows you to launch the Washington Post app in its own window with one click, for example, with BlueStacks you basically tap an icon on a virtual phone or tablet screen and view the app exactly as it would appear on a real Android device.
It’s a small distinction, but the Windows method seems a bit more natural at the moment. Keep in mind, though, that the BlueStacks route gives you a lot more apps and games, not just the ones Amazon has prepared for its store.