Windows 10 may soon be able to run mobile apps built for Android.
Microsoft is working on a software solution that would allow app developers to bring their Android apps to Windows 10 with little to no code changes by packaging them as an MSIX and allowing developers to submit them to the Microsoft Store. According to sources familiar with the matter, the project is codenamed ‘Latte’ and I’m told it could show up as soon as next year.
The company has toyed with the idea of bringing Android apps to Windows 10 before via a project codenamed Astoria that never saw the light of day. Project Latte aims to deliver a similar product, and is likely powered by the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL.) Microsoft will need to provide its own Android subsystem for Android apps to actually run, however.
Microsoft has announced that WSL will soon get support for GUI Linux applications, as well as GPU acceleration which should aid the performance of apps running through WSL.
It’s unlikely that Project Latte will include support for Play Services, as Google doesn’t allow Play Services to be installed on anything other than native Android devices and Chrome OS. This means that apps which require Play Services APIs will need to be updated to remove those dependencies before they can be submitted on Windows 10.
Today, users can run Android apps on their PCs via app streaming using the Your Phone app built into Windows 10, but this functionality has been limited to a handful of Samsung devices and isn’t always reliable. Being able to install and run Android apps locally on your PC will provide a much better experience and won’t depend on what phone you have.
Project Latte will allow app developers to bring over apps that don’t already have a Windows version available. I’ll be interested to see what kind of apps show up if Project Latte ever ships, as many Android apps are primarily designed for phones and are less desirable on anything larger than a phone-sized screen.
Microsoft has made it clear in the last couple of years that it no longer considers native Windows apps as the be-all end-all when it comes to app development on the platform. Microsoft now welcomes many app platforms, including PWA, UWP, Win32, Linux (via WSL) and soon, Android apps.
Assuming Microsoft doesn’t cancel its plans with Project Latte, bringing Android apps to the platform will make Windows 10 a near-universal OS when it comes to app support. I’m told Microsoft is hoping to announce Project Latte next year, and could ship as part of the fall 2021 release of Windows 10.