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Windows 11 Adds Android App Preview in First Major Update

Windows 11
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Windows 11 is getting its first big update today, including a public preview of Android apps in the Amazon Appstore as well as redesigned Media Player and Notepad apps, as well as significant improvements to the taskbar.

Windows and Devices lead Panos Panay first announced the new features last month, but now you can finally try them for yourself.

Microsoft and Amazon are adding more than 1,000 new Android apps to the Amazon Appstore Preview in the Microsoft Store, including Kindle, Audible and the game Subway Surfers. Notably, it's still a preview, so there's still work to be done here. Those who want to try it out should update the Microsoft Store by clicking "Get updates" in Microsoft Store > Library. You can then see which apps are on offer and use them in Windows, including as part of the Snap layouts that were introduced in Windows 11.

The Android App preview has different system requirements than Windows 11. You'll need at least 8GB of RAM, an SSD and a supported CPU: an 8th Gen Intel Core i3 or above, an AMD Ryzen 3000 CPU or above or Qualcomm Snapdragon 8c or better.

For many power users, the taskbar will be the biggest focus. For starters, those who use multiple monitors will now be able to see the date and time on the secondary screen. Previously, it only showed on the primary display, like that of a laptop.

The weather widget, which was in Windows 10, is also making a comeback — but this time, it's your entry point for the entire widgets menu. The Widgets menu will show live weather, which will update automatically. If you hover over the icon with your mouse, your Widgets will open, and if you click on the icon, it will remain open until you click elsewhere.

The taskbar is also getting new features to mute or unmute on a system-wide basis, or share your Window. During calls, a microphone icon will show up on the right hand side of the taskbar, and you can click it on and off to mute or unmute without worrying about being in your Meet, Zoom or Teams window. To share content on a call, you'll need to hover your mouse over an app in the taskbar, which will prompt you to confirm if you want to present that app to your call.

The two latest apps to get a Windows 11 redesign are Notepad and Media Player. Notepad is getting dark mode that works with your default system theme, if you use that all the time, it will be there already. Microsoft also claims to have simplified menus and added new features like colorful emojis and multi-level undo. Media Player replaces Groove Music; if you have playlists there, they will move to the new app automatically. Media Player is also getting more keyboard shortcuts.

Both apps can be updated in the Microsoft Store app in Windows 11.

Panay wrote that Micrrosoft will update Windows 11 "year-round," not just in annual feature releases.

"Overtime, you’ll see us release new features into Windows 11 for end users more frequently in addition to our annual update," Panay wrote in a blog post. "We will leverage the variety of update mechanisms we have in place including servicing and Microsoft Store updates. Our goal is to deliver continuous innovation, providing you with the best experiences year-round." 

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Twitter: @FreedmanAE

  • Colif
    dark mode notepad is nice, but Media player still looks the same as it has since Windows 7?
    I see its slowly being rolled out so I just wait
    Reply