Microsoft has so far officially stayed neutral in the constant battle between Google and Apple when it comes to operating software, apps, and all of the other fronts that the two tech giants compete on, but if the news coming out of Microsoft HQ in the past few days is accurate, they could be about to come off the bench. While Windows has been open to the inclusion of apps for some time, most of the apps you regularly use on Windows were designed by Microsoft themselves. In the future – the very near future – they might be more likely to have come from Google or at least been popular on Android. It appears that Microsoft’s big plan for 2021 is to introduce millions of Android apps to its flagship operating software.
While this might sound like a revolutionary idea on the face of it, it’s consistent with the way the Windows product has been headed for the past several years, with more of a focus on touchscreen users – who are far more likely to be accustomed to using apps than they are to interact with programs through a mouse or keyboard. The most recent Facebook update, for example, reminded a lot of people of the design of online slots websites. The comparisons are plain for all to see, with the social media website’s central column closely resembling the appearance of the most popular online slots websites. Even the ‘pull down to refresh’ feature is akin to the method used by players to spin again on UK slots. As the internet moves toward a new touchscreen era, it makes sense for operating software to go the same way.
Microsoft’s coding and development teams have given this new initiative the code name “Project Latte” and plan to roll it out during the first quarter of 2021 if testing is successful. The idea is for uses to be able to move apps between Android and Windows with no compatibility or functionality issues and with no coding required by the user to make the apps work. Some Android apps might even be able to run in Windows already, although it’s understood that those that do are currently limited. The ‘Your Phone’ app can also stream apps to a Windows computer from a smartphone, but as that app can only be found on a select number of high-end Samsung phones, the function isn’t widely used.
This new move is likely to be a response to the latest tech upgrades from Windows, and specifically the arrival of the first Macs to use Apple’s self-built ARM chip, the M1. Moving forward, Apple intends to use M1 chips in its laptop and desktop computers as well as its phones and tablets, meaning that the same apps will work on all Apple machines rather than requiring programmers to create two different versions of the same app. It appears that the era of needing to install a desktop version of the same app you have on your phone is almost over. Most of us would agree that this development is overdue and can’t come too soon – but unless Apple has yet another trick up its sleeve to unveil at the start of 2021, there’s reason to believe that non-Apple devices will hold the advantage when it comes to app functionality.
We say this because Apple still refuses to introduce touchscreen technology to MacBooks and Macs. If you want a touchscreen Apple device, you have to own a tablet or a phone. Their computers are still strictly limited to mouse and keyboard input. Because of that, it isn’t easy to imagine how an iPhone app could run on a computer and work exactly the same way it would if it were running on a phone or a tablet. Because Microsoft believes that its customers are migrating away from keyboards and toward touchscreens, Windows should be more capable of running Android apps than MacOS of running iOS apps – although we can’t say that for certain until we see the new technology in action. It’s thought that the existing Linux subsystem that already exists in Windows will be used to execute and manage the apps.
While this exciting-sounding update is the most eye-catching development coming to Windows 10 in the near future, it’s far from being the only one. If you’re a Power user or you regularly experiment with PowerToys, you might have seen a few changes happening already. Editing and resizing images no longer need to be a task that takes hours because images have to be edited and reformatted one at a time. The new Resizer tool allows for images to be resized to the same format in bulk, potentially saving hours of work for people who like to edit and polish their snaps after uploading them from their cameras to their computers. The “Color Picker” tool has also been altered to allow for multiple images to be recolored at once, so if you’re trying to create a theme, you should be able to do so with just a few clicks of a button – or touches of a screen.
We don’t have a final word on when the app-related changes will be made other than ‘in the near future,’ but it looks like Microsoft has decided that it wants Windows to be looked upon as a platform that can make using your Android phone more fun. The company has tried and failed to get involved in mobile phone manufacturing multiple times in the past, from the poorly-received Windows phones of a few years ago to the equally badly-received Microsoft Surface Duo, which failed to capture the attention of the public when it went on sale earlier in 2020. This decision to build closer ties with Google and its Android OS might be Microsoft admitting defeat in its quest to persuade people to buy phones, or it might be an attempt to demonstrate that they ‘get’ phones before trying again in the future. Either way, it’s a change that very few of us could claim to have seen coming at the start of the year. If you live your life through your phone and don’t know how you’d be able to get through the day without your favorite apps, this can only be seen as a good thing. Very soon, you’ll be able to play with them on your monitor as opposed to squinting at them on your phone’s screen!