It was a holiday in the UK yesterday, so my work week started a bit later than usual. Sadly, it began with the news that Microsoft has delayed the launch of Android app support for Windows 11. The feature won't be available at launch, though it will enter preview testing in the coming months. Support for Android apps isn't the only feature that I'm looking forward to in Windows 11, but not having it when Windows 11 launches in October puts a damper on my excitement.
Making an Android tablet I could justify buying
Android tablets are a difficult sell these days. Even incredible hardware like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 is difficult to justify as a purchase, at least for my workflow. For around the same money as the best Android tablets, I can grab an iPad if I want a dedicated tablet. If I want a full PC, there are always options running Windows.
When Microsoft announced that Windows 11 would support Android apps, my mind immediately thought about having a Surface device with Android apps. This would get me some of the benefits of an Android tablet without the drawback of lacking full PC functionality.
I understand that when Android support launches, it may not be perfect, but the concept of it excites me. Both Windows and Android tablets have their faults and shortcomings. I hoped that Android app support on a Windows device would bridge some of the notable gaps. Consumer-focused apps would get a boost from Android support, while full productivity apps would still be there through Windows.
At least in my specific workflow, this seemed like the best of both worlds. I could pick up a Surface Pro X this fall and then have media apps from Android (and some through the Microsoft Store) while still having my work apps through Windows.
A sad, but not unexpected, delay
The news that Android apps won't be supported at the launch of Windows 11 isn't horribly shocking. We're at the end of August and Windows Insiders haven't gotten a single build with the feature working. It would have been more surprising to see Microsoft go from Insider testing a feature in September to launching it to the public in October. But just because it's not surprising doesn't mean it's not disappointing.
Some people already think Windows 11 is just a facelift. While I've detailed why I disagree, not having a major feature at launch makes it a tad harder to argue. There are still plenty of features that will ship with Windows 11, but some of them won't matter to certain people. It's easy to tell someone that their favorite app is on Windows 11 now. It's harder to explain the benefits of Dynamic Refresh Rate or Direct Storage.
Windows 11 has a long list of new features, but they're spread across different use cases. Gamers will benefit from some while not caring about others. Students may enjoy the improved Ink Workspace but not care about widgets. By not shipping with support for Android apps, Windows 11 is a less intriguing prospect to some people. That's not a great look for an OS that's already in the headlines for the wrong reasons.
At least it's not canceled, right?
While I'm saddened by the delay of Android app support on Windows 11, at least it's not canceled. Microsoft has a history of tearing our hearts out when it comes to some features (RIP the People Bar). As long as Android app support ships at some point in the near future, I suppose I'll be okay. It's a pretty first-world problem to complain about having to wait a few months to use an app on a secondary device. Until then, there's always BlueStacks.