For years now there have been Android emulators for Windows and Mac that allowed you to run a full, although usually very slow and older version of Android on your desktop. With Windows 11 rolling out next month the much hyped Android emulation will not accompany it, at least not at the start, so the question is how bummed should you be?
TL;DR – opinion piece, don’t be bummed.
Probably not very. Even if it’s an insanely good experience on a PC there tends to be little functional use that I’ve found other than if you’re regularly without an Android device. Perhaps for those wishing to dip their toes into the Android experience without purchasing a separate device dedicated to it this would be a useful tool. The ability to pop into a game from your desktop rather than your phone can be useful. But really I’ve had emulators for coming on seven years now and between performance and just not a lot of use cases (and I have a lot of use cases,) I never really have thought this needed to be operating system incorporated.
I have been wrong before.
That said, integrated technologies like Windows Sandbox and the Windows Hypervisor have left me feeling like we’ve all been moving toward one great convergence. I’ve run Mac on PC, Android on PC, I have VMWare servers running PC and linux systems, I have 20 year old software that hasn’t been updated that every now and then I have to fire up a Windows 7 virtual machine for. Can we say not connected to the internet kids? I emulate old and new game consoles if I so desire. It’s all there. Why not Android?
Maybe it’s because I have Android devices that run well, but there’s also the element of pocketability and sensor/device access that comes with the Android devices I own. I use my Android to level things, estimate sizes, talk to my Fitbit, control my house, give me directions based on GPS. One of the selling points of Android here is that my phone is always with me and my Windows machine is not. Perhaps that’s been my biggest disinterest in the emulation of Android under Windows. Also that it was done really really poorly many years ago (not by Microsoft.)
Tight integration where you could cut and paste and have object copies between Windows and Android, now that might be cool. That said it’s not something I’ve had a chance to investigate. I’m sitting here mostly with my hands over my eyes yelling “no spoilers!” which, for a tech blog is probably not what you came here for.
Windows 11 will ship. It won’t include Android ability at first. Then it will. It will be interesting to see if they end up making the Android subsystem work across devices so you can pull it up at work or at home and have the same desktop/app.
Overall, looking a bit forward to it but realizing I’m spoiled because I’m actually pretty happy with my phone and tablet at the moment. Hoping they have GPU acceleration and it’s not a CPU hog like some of the emulators. Still not entirely sure what I would do with it other than perhaps have an authenticator backup, some home controls, and maybe if it works well enough all the stupid setup apps you have to keep around for all these IoT devices that you never need again once you integrate into Google Home.