The Windows Subsystem for Android is an optional component of Windows 11 that allows you to run Android apps on a Windows PC. Basically Microsoft achieves this by installing a complete Android operating system in a virtual machine and configuring it so that Android you can launch and use Android apps almost as if they were native Windows apps.
When the Windows Subsystem for Android first launched in 2021, that virtual machine was running Android 11. Now Microsoft has begun rolling out a new version of Windows Subsystem for Android to members of the Windows Insider program, and this time it’s based on Android 12.1 (also known as Android 12L).
After first rolling out for Windows Insiders on the Dev Channel last month, Microsoft has announced that the new version of the Windows Subsystem for Android (version 2204.40000.19.0) is available to all Insiders.
The good news is that this means Android apps that rely on newer Android APIs should be able to run. 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 those icons in the Windows taskbar.
The less good news is that this is an early build meant for beta testers, and there are some known bugs – some apps that worked on earlier versions of the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) may no longer work properly and there may be instability 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.
In addition to moving to Android 12.1, the newest version of WSA brings:
- Advanced Networking allows you to connect to other devices on the same network as your Windows PC to do things like play music on a connected speaker or use a security camera or other smart home devices.
- A redesigned Settings app means the user interface has been cleaned up, settings groups have been tweaked, and you can view diagnostic data collected by WSA.
- Diagnostic Data Collection: is now disabled by default.
- Camera app improvements mean the camera orientation should be applied correctly and you should see fewer bugs with camera previews and image capture.
- Input device improvements include better support for scroll-wheels and the onboard keyboard.
- Hardware video decoding for VP8 and VP9 is now supported.
- Chromium WebView has been updated to version 100.
Microsoft says users should also see “improved general stability, performance, and reliability,” aside from a few known issues.
So far the new version of WSA is only available for Windows Insiders, but eventually the update should make its way to stable builds of Windows 11.
This article was first published May 20, 2022 and most recently updated June 2, 2022.