Microsoft to roll out Android apps preview for Windows 11 next month along with Taskbar improvements, new Media Player and Notepad apps
Windows 11 is set to bring some improvements to the user experience such as the Taskbar, a new Media Player and a Notepad app next month. The company is also set to roll out Android apps for Windows 11 as a public preview.
If you can recall, the Redmond company announced that it had partnered with Amazon to bring the latter's App Store to Windows PCs, allowing users to access mobile apps and games on their desktop.
Image courtesy: Microsoft
It is obvious why Windows 11 was rushed out the door, to drive the sales of new computers, laptops, which shipped with the new operating system during the holiday season. The problem however was that the OS wasn't very well optimized at launch, and Microsoft had to focus on fixing the issues. This meant pushing some features to a later date, including support for Android apps. A month or so later, the Windows Subsystem on Android (WSA) debuted as a limited beta for users in the US. Some users found a way to get it to work on the stable channel of the OS, and we have a guide that shows you how to install Android apps on Windows 11.
Android apps preview for Windows 11
While Microsoft delayed support for the feature, Google reacted to it quickly, and announced its own way to use Android apps on Windows 10 and 11. The search giant is prepping its iteration, called Google Play Games for PC, and is currently available in a limited beta for users in Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan.
It almost feels like a race at this point to who gets Android apps on Windows first, so it's not really surprised that Microsoft wants to push the feature to users soon. That said, it won't be available to the stable channel just yet, a blog post by Panos Panay, CPO of Windows Devices, states that the feature will be released as a public preview next month.
Upcoming features in Windows 11
If you are a regular reader, you may be aware that we have written about these features, having tested them when they were introduced in the Windows Insider Preview builds. Here's a rundown of what you can expect from them.
Windows 11 will allow you to adjust the volume by scrolling the mouse wheel over the Taskbar's volume icon. It also brings a new button that will appear when specific apps are running such as Teams, clicking on which will mute and unmute the microphone. In order to help users collaborate with their contacts during video calls, Windows 11 lets them share their open program windows directly from the Taskbar. The Widgets button in Windows 11 will be moved to the left edge instead of its central location, and it will display the weather information, such as the current temperature, directly on the Taskbar.
While these maybe impressive additions, the Windows 11 Taskbar menu experience is nowhere close to what its predecessor offered. Drag and drop support for the Taskbar is another feature that has been requested by many users, though it could arrive in the future.
New Notepad and Media Player apps
Microsoft is set to replace the Notepad app with a new one that has a slightly refreshed design. It retains the features from the previous version, but also adds a couple of new options such as a Dark theme, and multi-level undo.
The Media Player app which replaces Groove Music has a fluent design, that adheres to the Windows 11 standard. The legacy Media Player will continue to be available for users. The new version is perfectly capable of playing videos, music tracks, and also lets you play streaming media. It may not offer the more advanced options that you may be used to in VLC, PotPlayer, MPC, MPV, etc., but the new Media Player maybe sufficient for the average user.
If you can't wait to try it, here's a guide on how to install the new Media Player in Windows 11 right now.
What features would you like to have on Windows 11?
Microsoft needs to course-correct from the unappetizing Windows 11 release, and it’s actually surprising to me that they haven’t done that in this first major update.
– Where’s the ability to remove “recommended” from the start menu?
– Start menu folders?
– Drag files to a running application in the taskbar?
– Moving the taskbar to the sides or top?
– Text in addition to icons in the taskbar?
C’mon, guys. The media extensively covered the issues and many more. It’s super that you’re integrating Teams and connecting people during a pandemic and whatever other marketing speak you put in that blog post, but that stuff isn’t why I didn’t upgrade my computers to 11. You need to address the functionality you degraded or outright removed in the change from Windows 10.
The start menu works as it did back in XP, just looks different:
The programs that appear on the left in XP’s start menu are based on what you use the most.
The programs that appear on the bottom in 11’s start menu are based on newly installed.
The only difference between 11 and XP is that in 11 the start menu has a search option. So you can search for what you don’t see. In XP it showed you most used, because it lacked the search functionality.
There are FAR more pressing problems with the garbage that is Windows 11:
1. Default Programs is garbage and it’s very hard to set your preferred programs.
2. The white theme is blindingly white and it’s a pain to look at, while the dark theme is incomplete and many programs don’t make use of it. The imbeciles at Microsoft should have made the white theme light gray as it would have been easier to enforce it on all programs and not frying people’s eyes.
3. The UI is still very inconsistent and looking at the speeds at which they are addressing this, by 2030, it will still look the same. The problem is they always come with stupid and ugly new designs that nobody likes, them included and they scrap them for something else, but it takes ages before they update them to whatever else they’ve come up with. For example, the ugliness of Windows 8 and Windows 10 can still be felt in Windows 11 and there are some elements of apps that were changed with Windows 10, but the designs were scrapped, but they still haven’t been updated to the Windows 11 designs. By the time hat happens, Windows 12 will come with even more new designs and the fragmented mess will persist.
Hmm, they made such a song and dance about the new centralised taskbar, but now they’re moving one of the icons and pinning it to te left?