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How to run Android apps on Windows 11: Detailed guide

No need for third-party emulators anymore!
How To
By
November 3, 2021
Android apps on Windows 11
Microsoft

Windows 11 launched on October 5 after spending months in beta. However, the launch version of Windows 11 came without one of the most-anticipated features — native Android emulation allowing users to run Android apps on their PCs. Microsoft had then said it would be testing the feature soon and releasing it to the stable Windows 11 channel later.

The ability to run Android apps on Windows 11 is now being tested in the beta channel via the Windows Insider Program. This means you can get your hands on it right now, and we’re here to help you with just that. Here’s how to run Android apps on Windows 11.

Read alsoHow to install Google Play Store on Windows 11

How to get Android apps on Windows 11

There are a few steps to getting Android apps on Windows 11. Currently, you will need to be on the Windows Insider Program, running Windows 11 beta channel build 22000.282 or later. You also need to enable hardware virtualization and meet minimum system requirements. Provided your system supports this feature, you should be able to run Android apps on Windows 11.

Read moreThe complete guide on how to install Windows 11

Check the minimum system requirements

To begin with, your PC needs to meet the minimum requirements to get Windows 11. Here are the requirements.

Windows 11 system requirements
Processor
1GHz or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC)
RAM
4GB
Storage
64GB or larger storage device
System firmware
UEFI, Secure Boot capable
TPM
Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0

Graphics card
Compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver
Display
High definition (720p) display that is greater than 9” diagonally, 8 bits per colour channel
Internet connection and Microsoft account
Windows 11 Home edition requires internet connectivity and a Microsoft account
Current Windows version
Windows 10, version 2004 or later

You can check your system specifications in Windows Settings, in the About section in the System tab. To run Android apps on Windows 11, you’ll be using the Amazon App Store via the Microsoft Store, so you’ll also need a US-based Amazon account. Additionally, your computer’s primary storage will need to be an SSD to get the subsystem to install, rather than HDD.

Join the Windows Insider Program and update

Android apps on Windows 11 are only available in the beta builds via Windows Insider Program right now. So you’ll need to enroll in the program and get the latest Windows 11 beta on your system. Here’s how you can go about that.

  • Head over to the official website for the Windows Insider Program. Log in with the same Microsoft account that you use on your current Windows system, and proceed to register.
Windows Insider Program registration page
Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
Once registered, the Windows Insider Program will give you the option to “Flight now.” Click on it.
Windows Insider Program flight now
Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • Now head over to the Privacy tab in the Settings app on the Windows system you want to upgrade, and click on Diagnostics & Feedback. Here, you’ll need to turn on “Optional diagnostic data” under the Diagnostic data setting.
  • Windows Insider Program optional diagnostic data
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • Once done, go to the “Windows Insider Program” tab under the Update & Security tab in Settings, and click on Get started. You will get a prompt to link an account, proceed by selecting the account that you previously used to register with Windows Insider Program.
  • Windows Insider Program link account selection
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • When prompted to “Choose your Insider settings,” select the Beta Channel and confirm.
  • Windows Insider Program channel selection
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • A final confirmation message will pop up. Hit Confirm. When prompted, you will need to restart your system to get the update, so click on Restart Now. Alternatively, you can choose to restart later.
  • Windows Insider Program restart
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • Once you’ve restarted, head over to the Update & Security tab in the Settings app and click on “Check for Updates.” Windows Update will fetch the Windows 11 beta update and start downloading it.
  • Windows Insider Program checking for update
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • The update will finish downloading. Restart your PC when done.
  • Windows Insider Program windows 11 downloading
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority

    Install the Windows Subsystem for Android

    Now that you have the latest Windows 11 beta, you can move on to install the Windows Subsystem for Android. This is basically an entire build of Android that runs as a virtualization instance inside of Windows, letting you run Android apps on Windows. There are a few steps to getting the subsystem on your Windows 11 beta.

    • Open Microsoft Store, and click on the Library tab at the bottom left corner.
    Windows 11 Microsoft Store
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • Click on the Get updates button.
  • Windows 11 Microsoft Store updates
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • Your Microsoft Store should finish updating. To check the version, click on the profile button on the title bar, to the right. The version number should be in the About this app section. Make sure it is 22110.1402.6.0 or higher.
  • Windows 11 Microsoft Store version
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • Once your Microsoft Store is up to date, you can move on to enable virtualization. Older systems will need you to flip the switch in the BIOS/UEFI settings, usually called Intel VT-X or AMD-V depending upon the brand of CPU in your system. Then you can enable it inside Windows 11.
  • Open the Control Panel, navigate to the Programs section, and click on Turn Windows features on or off. Enable Virtual Machine Platform and Windows Hypervisor Platform by making sure the boxes next to them are checked and click on OK.
  • Windows 11 Windows features dialogue
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • Restart your system.
  • Open Amazon App Store and click on Install. Go through the setup process. This will install the Windows Subsystem for Android and the Amazon Store, and get your system ready for Android apps.
  • Sideloading the Windows Subsystem for Android

    Some folks may not be able to get their hands on the Windows Subsystem for Android and Amazon App Store despite following the steps. In that case, installing the Subsystem manually is an option. It’s a little tricky, but it can work.

    • Search for Windows PowerShell, right-click on the app search result and click on Run as administrator.
    Windows 11 powershell run as administrator
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • In PowerShell, copy-paste this code: winget install 9p3395vx91nr -s msstore and hit the enter key.
  • Windows 11 powershell Windows Android Subsystem 1
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • You’ll have to agree to the agreement terms of the store in PowerShell. When prompted, type in the letter Y and press the Enter key.
  • Windows 11 powershell Windows Android Subsystem agreement
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • PowerShell will then give you a prompt with some more license terms, specific to the Subsystem this time. Press Y and enter again.
  • Windows 11 powershell Windows Android Subsystem second agreement
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • The Subsystem package will then download and install, and you’ll get a Microsoft Store notification saying it was successful.
  • Windows 11 powershell Windows Android Subsystem installation success
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority

    Install Android apps on Windows 11

    If you managed to get the Amazon App Store to install directly, then you can just open it by searching for it from the Start menu. It will ask you to log in once, with your Amazon US account. Once done, you can just search for the app you want, and click on the Get button to download it. Any Android app installed on Windows 11 will show up as a normal program you can directly run from the Start menu.

    Also readThe best Android emulators for PC and Mac

    If you don’t have access to the store, which you won’t if you sideloaded the Subsystem, you will have to manually download the APKs and install them via PowerShell. For this, you will need to have systemwide Android Debug Bridge aka ADB installed on your system. This is needed because the Subsystem acts like an Android phone wirelessly connected to the Windows 11 PC, and you can use ADB to leverage that connection to push APKs of your choice. This method is useful for installing apps that are not available on the Amazon App Store, too.

    • Download the 15-seconds ADB Installer from here. Extract and run the installer.
    • Give the administrator permission when asked. It will run in a terminal window as well, asking you Y/N as yes or no for installing specific components. We need all three components, so press Y and then the Enter key for all three — install ADB and Fastboot, install ADB system-wide, and install Drivers. The driver installer will pop up as a separate window, which you have to follow to finish the installation.
    Windows 11 ADB installer
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • Download the APK file of the app of your choice from a trusted source like APK Mirror. For this tutorial, we’re using the Firefox browser for Android.
  • Run the Windows Subsystem for Android. You can do this by simply searching for it and clicking on it from the Start Menu.
  • In the settings, make sure the Developer Mode is turned on.
  • Click on the boxed arrow in the Files tab to get the Subsystem running.
  • Windows 11 Windows Subsystem for Android launch screen
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • Run PowerShell as an administrator again.
  • To connect to the Subsystem via ADB, copy the IP address you can see in the Subsystem settings. In the PowerShell window, type in “adb connect”, followed by the copied IP address. Make sure there’s a space between the word connect and the IP address. Press Enter.
  • Use the command “adb devices” to verify that the connection was successful.
  • Windows 11 Windows Subsystem for Android ADB connection
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • Now, find the APK file in your Downloads folder. Right-click on it, and click on Copy as path.
  • Go back to the PowerShell window, and type in “adb install”, followed by pasting the path you copied. Make sure to remove the quotation marks at the beginning and end of the path. You can use arrow keys to navigate through the command text. Your final command should look like this: adb install C:\Users\yourname\Downloads\firefox.apk
  • Windows 11 Windows Subsystem for Android install command
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • Press Enter to begin the installation. You’ll see the PowerShell say Performing Streamed Install, followed by a Success message.
  • Windows 11 Windows Subsystem for Android install success
    Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • The app is now installed, and will show up in your installed apps in the Start menu. Run it and enjoy!
  • There’s an easier method coming soon, via the WSATools app. More on that when it arrives.

    What Android apps can you get on Windows 11?

    For now, the Amazon App Store for Windows has only 50 apps available. These include games like Lords Mobile, June’s Journey, Coin Master, reading apps like Kindle, and apps for kids, like Khan Academy Kids, and Lego Duplo World. Big apps like Gmail and YouTube are missing, due to the absence of Google Services in this setup.

    Relevant: The best Android apps available right now

    With the sideloading method, it’s more or less the same issue. You will not be able to install apps that require Google Services, or have split installation files with .APKM extension. However, you can install a lot more than 50 apps this way, provided you can find the APK file.

    Benefits of running Android apps on Windows 11

    There’s one big upside to native Android emulation on Windows — no need to install third-party Android emulators. There’s a ton of uses for this, including using chat apps like WhatsApp on your PC, or trying to play mobile games on your PC. The process of installing Android apps on Windows has always been a long one, but when the final release of this feature hits, it will become quick and easy, likely for good.

    It is also likely to take up fewer system resources in comparison to third-party emulators. So far, in the beta stage, this feature has a few quirks, but we expect it to be smooth sailing by the time it’s ready for public release.