The list of improvements extends beyond just the move to Android 12L
Android apps refuse to be constrained to just your phone, and there’s been a big effort lately to bring them to platforms like Chrome OS. That includes traditional PCs, too, and after a rather extended Windows Insider beta test, Android apps and games finally became widely available for Windows 11 users. We’re still waiting on access to spread everywhere, but that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from working to improve the experience. Today we learn about the latest fruits of those efforts, an updated Windows Subsystem for Android with a software bump to Android 12.1 (aka Android 12L).
Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel can now access WSA version 2204.40000.15.0. With the new software, Android apps now integrate better with Windows, allowing you to see which ones are using your microphone and location on the Windows taskbar (per Mishaal Rahman). You’ll also see prompts from Android apps display as Windows notifications for easier access, and Android apps now support advanced networking features on Windows 11, allowing them to connect to other devices (such as smart cameras or speakers) on the same network as your PC.
Microsoft has made serious design changes to the WSA Settings app, better grouping similar settings and navigation options for a more streamlined experience. It has also added a diagnostic data viewer with information on all the data collected by the Subsystem and disabled optional diagnostic data by default (although you can enable it if you want). Other upgrades include support for hardware VP8 and VP9 decoding, and the presence of Chromium 100.
The camera app gets a few improvements, too, including fixed camera orientation, proper previews, and a well-rendered camera feed. Even input devices are receiving some attention — there’s better scroll wheel support, fixed onscreen keyboard focus, and tweaked keyboard appearance.
Meanwhile, there are a few known issues with the update, like camera instability on ARM devices, missing or broken apps, and a glitch that causes apps rendered at lower resolutions to lay out incorrectly. If you’re running Windows 11, are enrolled in the Insiders program, and aren’t too worried about those little problems, you should be able to install the update from the Microsoft Store.
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