Although Microsoft did confirm the cosmetic changes that have been leaked about Windows 11, it managed to drop a few surprises on our laps today, some good, some bad, and some just puzzling. Its revelation that its next free Windows upgrade will support running Android apps may actually cover all those three cases. While the idea of being able to access your favorite mobile apps on your desktop or laptop might be exciting, the fact that it will be powered by Amazon’s Android ecosystem could dampen a bit of that enthusiasm.
It might surprise some that Amazon has an Android ecosystem at all, and that is part of the problem. The e-commerce giant’s Fire platform is actually based on Android and is most evident on its Fire tablets. These have access to many Android apps but many big names aren’t there, particularly Google’s apps.
The reason for that is simple. Amazon’s Android platform and devices aren’t Google-certified and, therefore, don’t have access to Google Play apps and services. Amazon Appstore is practically a competitor to Google Play Store in that regard and is on the same footing as Android app stores from Huawei (pre-HarmonyOS), OPPO, and, technically, even Samsung.
More than just the apps and Google Play Store itself, however, this means that Android apps that will be running on Windows 11 won’t have access to APIs and features that many may have taken for granted on their phones. These include location, security, cloud storage, and other facilities that some Android apps use. In other words, there will be apps that won’t be available or won’t work on Windows 11 simply because there will be no Google Play Services there, at least not officially.
Microsoft’s and Amazon’s announcements still leave a lot of questions unanswered, though. In the larger Android ecosystem, there are also unofficial means of getting Google Play services or their equivalent installed on uncertified phones and ROMs. Whether this will be possible on Windows 11 is, however, also still uncertain, and we’ll probably know more in the weeks and months ahead leading up to Windows 11’s release.