Android Support on Windows Fading, While iOS Apps on macOS

This month, Microsoft said that in a year, the Windows Subsystem for Android, which allows users to run Android apps on Windows computers, will no longer be supported. Although not many people exploited the option, Windows users are not to blame for that. Because of how fundamentally counterintuitive its approach was, Android apps have no place on Windows. Because of its unmatched cross-platform interoperability, only Apple can provide a capability that allows phone apps to run on a desktop operating system.

Android Support on Windows Fading, While macOS Embraces iOS Apps
Image credit by Tech Beast

And that's not just conjecture. Nearly many of the top Macs can run iOS apps without any further work needed right out of the box. They show up right in the search results of the native macOS App Store. While iOS apps on macOS are still in use, the Windows Subsystem for Android was a complete failure. Though its implementation was flawed, Microsoft's concept was sound.

The Lure of Android on Windows: A Story of Missteps

Because it is dependent on outside businesses and developers to make things happen, Microsoft finds it difficult to accomplish anything. That's a byproduct of Microsoft operating as a horizontally integrated organization, as it lacks Apple's authority over certain areas. For instance, Microsoft needs Google's assistance for two key reasons in order to successfully launch Android apps on Windows. The first is that the Google Play Store is by far the most widely used Android app store, thus having it available on Windows would boost Android's use of the Windows Subsystem right away. The more obvious explanation, though, is that Google's first-party applications—think of Drive, Maps, and Google Search—are housed on Google servers alone.

In the last decade or two, if there's been one consistent trend in the tech sector, it's been the short lifespan of platforms that can't leverage Google services. Microsoft had to use the open-source Android version to develop the Windows Subsystem for Android in the absence of Google's assistance. In addition, it made the Amazon Appstore its default app store, which is problematic for more reasons than just the absence of Google apps. Yes, you may use the appropriate APKs and the Windows Subsystem for Android to sideload programs. The issue is that, even for advanced users, downloading Android apps for Windows through an emulator like Bluestacks is far more convenient and superior. In other words, the Windows Subsystem for Android was destined to fail from the beginning.

The Triumph of iOS Apps on macOS: A Seamless Convergence

Apple has total control over its platforms, which gives it an advantage over Microsoft. Apple has often shown that it can use its billion-strong user base to essentially compel developers to follow its wishes. Naturally, it cannot genuinely compel developers to provide support for its platforms. However, only a small number of developers—such as Epic Games—are prepared to sacrifice the ability to compete with Apple and reach billions of users. Because of this, Apple had very little options when it came to allowing iPhone apps to run on the Mac.

By now, most people are undoubtedly aware that Apple replaced Intel with its own silicon chips for the Mac in 2020; these chips are based on the same silicon that runs the iPad and iPhone. As a result, Apple is able to execute iOS and iPadOS apps on macOS without the need for a translation layer. Going one step further, Apple provides access to the macOS App Store for Apple Silicon Macs to every iOS and iPadOS app. Developers have the option to opt out, but they are not forced to take any manual action. An program will by default be accessible on macOS if you wish to make it available on iOS or iPadOS. Notable apps have chosen not to participate, such as Instagram.

For this very reason, iPhone apps work incredibly well with macOS. iOS and iPadOS versions of an app will appear if you search for it in the macOS App Store without finding an official Mac app. They operate in windowed mode similar to their iOS and iPadOS counterparts, and you can download them just like any other macOS app. Although it's a common expression when discussing Apple features, iPhone apps "just work" on Mac computers. That's the reason the Windows Subsystem for Android is closing and they remain in place.

Embracing iOS Apps on macOS: The Pragmatic Choice

Using iPhone apps on your Mac is recommended for a few reasons, the most obvious being that not all iOS apps have a native macOS counterpart. For instance, I utilize LumaFusion for video editing because it is free of cost and offers just the functionality I require. Rather than purchasing Final Cut Pro X or signing up for Adobe Premier Pro, I may use the same LumaFusion tool that I originally purchased for iOS and iPadOS on macOS. There isn't a Mac program for LumaFusion, and if there was, I would have to purchase it individually. Rather, the LumaFusion iPad app operates flawlessly and automatically on Apple Silicon Macs.

Whether you approve or disapprove of Apple's commercial methods, the company's close-knit community enables it to provide things that competitors cannot. Microsoft's Windows Subsystem for Android was a brilliant idea that failed to materialize due to an inability to form a relationship with Google. Apple, on the other hand, accomplished everything by themselves.


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