Microsoft is beta testing Android 13 app for Windows 11

Yeah, this one is pretty frustrating. I will be clear from the start here; I have yet to use Android apps on a Windows laptop. The Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) only went live this fall, so it’s one of those things that’s been on the radar for a while but hasn’t felt essential to try. . Our own Michael Perrigo tried it out, but from what I’ve read so far the overall experience isn’t great, mostly due to the lack of apps available (there aren’t any access to the Play Store).

However, what I’m here to talk about has little to do with the good or bad of running Android apps on Windows. Instead, I’m sitting here shaking my head in disbelief reading this. Microsoft is already testing Android 13 beta for its Windows Subsystem for Android when many Chromebooks are still stuck on Android 9 at this point. What is happening here?

Wasn’t ARCVM supposed to fix this problem?

When Google introduced the ARCVM container, I thought this whole pending Android update process would finally be behind us. ARCVM (Android Runtime Container Virtual Machine) was supposed to provide us with an updated container that would make stripping the last bits of the Android framework in place for ChromeOS easier and much more frequent. Instead, it’s not even on half of Chromebooks and even in its current state it still only supports Android 11.

In about 8 months we’ll be on Android 14, which means Chromebooks are about to be 3 years behind Android at best, and 5 years behind at worst. As if that wasn’t frustrating enough on its own, here’s Microsoft and its brand new Android container pushing things to the latest version of Android available. Sure, it’s in beta testing right now, but that could leave it in a few weeks. And when that inevitably happens, I have little hope that Google will magically fix its own Android container so that everyone is finally on the latest version of Android.

Android on Chromebooks is disappointing

As a Chromebook user who wants using more android apps is so daunting. What started with so much promise has kind of deteriorated into what seems like an afterthought as we wind down 2022. As a banner feature for Chromebooks, I’m a little baffled that it’s not a top priority for the ChromeOS team. And if it’s at the top of the list, why does it take so long to get sorted? If there are any technical issues preventing us from getting Android updates at a snail’s pace, the users deserve to know.

It reminds me of the early days of Gboard when iPhone users had features before Android users. In this scenario, I kind of got it because Apple has a line of phones to write software for. But we’re talking about Android running Windows – the largest and most diverse desktop/laptop operating system available. I’m sure Microsoft’s WSA container has bugs and will continue to have them, but at least they’re pushing things to the latest version of Android with all those issues.

Google seems content right now to leave the Android container on Chromebooks in a perpetually unfinished state; bugs and all. If we ever have to deal with idiosyncrasies when using Android apps on Chromebooks, I’d like to help iron out those bugs in a modern version of the Android framework.

Again, I’m not saying this is all easy or that anyone really solved the problem, but if moving forward is going to continue to take years, we all deserve to know what to expect. Too many Chromebooks are being sold with the promise of Android apps as one of the big perks available, and unfortunately keeping that capability behind the development curve becomes a real liability. Especially when a competitor finds ways to get things done. I wish I could say that Google is ready to clean all this up in 2023, but I have no information about it let alone hope at this point. Maybe I’m wrong. That’s definitely what I’m looking for, anyway.

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