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Author Topic: App Versions for Windows  (Read 304 times)

arlo

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App Versions for Windows
« on: November 11, 2022, 05:14:03 PM »
Microsoft's long-awaited plans to support Android apps in Windows 11 is finally coming together, to the point where I've been able to test BandHelper and Set List Maker on a Windows laptop. This requires installation of the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA). Android apps will be distributed on Windows through the Amazon Appstore, and Amazon hasn't released my apps to the public yet, but here are the issues I've seen in testing:

  • There is currently no easy way to copy files between WSA and the parent Windows system on the same device. So Android apps can save files, but only other Android apps can access them. This is most significant for Set List Maker, which relies on file imports and exports to back up and share databases. Microsoft says this capability is on their road map, but until then, I will probably withhold Set List Maker from Windows distribution. BandHelper can sync without problems.
  • Live Sharing does not work when running on Windows. Microsoft says they're working on this but don't have a timeline for it.
  • Remote Control works with one foot switch I tried (AirTurn BT-200|S-2) but not another (iRig BlueTurn). I think this is more related to Windows or my laptop hardware than to the Android subsystem, because the BlueTurn shows "driver error" in the Windows Bluetooth settings.
  • The Android MIDI framework is not supported. My apps include a third-party MIDI library as a fallback, but USB, Bluetooth and peer networking are also not supported, so there's no way to transmit messages to or from other devices. I tried using virtual MIDI to exchange data with other Android apps, and that didn't work, either.

Given these limitations, I wondered if this had any advantages over existing Android emulators, so I downloaded and tried Bluestacks 5. Here's how they compare:

  • The interface runs a bit less smoothly in Bluestacks compared to WSA.
  • Android apps with WSA run in their own window and feel like native Windows apps, versus running inside a Bluestacks window.
  • The four functional limitations listed above are the same in Bluestacks: remote control works, but local file access, Live Sharing and MIDI don't.
  • Bluestacks has lower system requirements, requiring only Windows 7 (but Windows 10 is recommended) and 4 GB of RAM (but 8 GB is recommended). WSA requires Windows 11 and 8 GB of RAM (but 16 GB is recommended).
  • Bluestacks uses the Google Play Store, while WSA uses the Amazon Appstore. This means if you bought Set List Maker for Android through Google, you would need to buy it again through Amazon to run it on Windows. If you're using BandHelper, that's a free download from either store.

I'll be watching for a release by Amazon, and for any changes to these functional limitations. Meanwhile, you can learn more about WSA here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/install-mobile-apps-and-the-amazon-appstore-on-windows-f8d0abb5-44ad-47d8-b9fb-ad6b1459ff6c

By the way, the laptop I'm testing with is a Lenovo Yoga 6 with 16 GB of RAM. Performance is good. In fact, my apps seem to run faster than native Windows apps -- probably because they are optimized for mobile devices.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2022, 04:59:10 PM by arlo »

 

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