Windows 11 for Android Developers is a Game Changer

Windows 11 for Android Developers is a Game Changer!

The Hot News

Microsoft made an announcement that could be a game-changer for Android developers. Windows 11 will let users run Android apps on Windows-based computers in much the same way that Google’s Chromo OS does on Chromebooks. And they’ll be able to discover and install these apps through a redesigned Windows Store. The first question many were asking after picking themselves up off the floor was, how will this work?

Microsoft’s Plan

On Windows 8 and Windows 10, the Windows app store was only able to distribute what Microsoft calls universal apps. With Windows 11, developers will be able to distribute both universal and conventional desktop applications through the store, but also apps that were originally built for Android phones and tablets. The Windows Store will delegate the distribution of Android apps to the Amazon Appstore. The first time user tries to install an Android app, they’ll be asked for us to install the Amazon Appstore, and then they’ll be able to install other apps. The Amazon Appstore will process app purchases and provide important runtime services.

But how will these android apps be able to run on an Intel or an AMD-based computer? To understand this, let’s review how Android apps run in normal conditions.

When you package an Android app for deployment, the code you write in Java or Kotlin is compiled into something called DEX byte code. On each Android device, that byte code is recompiled by the Android runtime, or ART, into something that works on that specific device. This process is known as ahead of time compilation, and it’s what makes it possible for Android apps to run on diverse devices with processors from Qualcomm, Samsung, and other chipmakers.

On Windows 11 computers and tablets, something similar will happen. A technology called the Intel Bridge will recompile the app to work on a computer with an Intel or AMD processor. In theory, this means that your app built with Java or Kotlin will just work on Windows 11.

Will this turn out to be true in practice? We’ll have to wait and see. It’s truly early days. So, if you’re an Android developer, what should you do now?

If you haven’t already, you may want to explore getting your app into the Amazon Appstore. Many developers haven’t done this for a variety of reasons, but it really comes down to this. Until now, the Amazon Appstore is the main provider of apps on Amazon Fire tablets. But the number of those devices in users’ hands is very low if we compare cell phones and tablets that support the Google Play Store. Many developers felt the extra work just wouldn’t be worth it.

But with Windows 11, that calculation changes. There are billions of Windows users, and each one who upgrades to Windows 11 becomes a potential customer for your Android app. You probably need to do some extra work. If your app uses functionality that depends on Google Play services, such as in-app purchases or the Google Maps API, then you may have to rebuild those features with Amazon’s equivalent tools.

Sharpen Your Skills

You’ll want to learn how to use build variants, which let you create alternative app IDs, multiple versions of resources, such as image files, and different code paths that are used depending on which variant is installed. Also, make sure your app looks great and behaves well on larger screens.

The Android SDK has all the tools to make this happen, but it isn’t automatic. You have to create alternate layouts for different screens and manage them with fragments. Your apps should adapt gracefully to a variety of screen sizes and pixel densities. So it works well on cell phones, tablets, and full-size computer displays.

Conclusion

If you’re an Android developer and you want to distribute your Android app in this new and potentially massive marketplace, go create an Amazon Developer account, it’s free. And you’ll be able to explore the tools that Amazon provides as alternatives to Google Play’s APIs. And when this new capability comes to Windows 11 users, your Android app can be ready.

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