It’s no secret that Microsoft’s Windows Phone mobile operating system has an “app-gap” problem. The stark difference in the app count in Windows Phone Store when compared to Android’s Google Play, and Apple’s App Store is so wide that even the ‘universal app’ support — which the Redmond-based company announced at last year’s Build conference — has been unable to fill it. But it seems the company is finally ready to tread on a controversial path to solve this age-old problem.

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As a long time Microsoft beat journalist Paul Thurrott reports, the company will be announcing support for Android apps on Windows Phone platform sometime later this week — I would put my money on the company’s own developer Build 2015 conference which commences later today. If true, this will enable Windows Phone users to try out most of their favorite Android apps — not so sure about Google Mobile Services such as Gmail etc yet — on their Windows-powered smartphone.

As crazy as this may sound — and we understand that it will disappoint many Windows enthusiasts — this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of such possibility. As ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reported last year, Microsoft has had been contemplating a “Plan B” which facilitates support for Android apps on Windows 10 for phones-powered devices. She had noted that the company was hoping that it wouldn’t have to use it, but if nothing works out, this was supposed to be company’s final attempt to save Windows Phone.

Microsoft’s affair with Android goes a long way back. Besides making billions off licensing more than 200 patents that are required to build an Android phone, Nokia had launched Android-powered X lineup last year that runs on Android. The company — much like any company out there — is more than welcome to use Google’s open source Android project (AOSP) which ships without Google Mobile Services.

If Microsoft introduces support for Android apps on Windows Phone, it still wouldn’t be the first smartphone manufacturer to embrace and bank on other’s growing platform to better compete in the market. BlackBerry, for instance, introduced support for Android apps last year.

With the ability to run Android apps on Windows Phone, millions of users will be able to try out the newest apps as well as several popular apps that are otherwise out of their reach. But we wonder how many of them will welcome this move. By introducing any similar support, Microsoft is essentially putting in its paper. The company is giving up on the idea that Windows Phone in its current state is capable of competing with rival platforms.

As we noted earlier, this is also likely to flame up its loyal user base. As Rudy Huyn, one of the top devoted app developers of Windows Phone had pointed out earlier this year, if Microsoft brings this functionality, it will be very hard for it to lure customers. “If a user can [have a] choice between a real Android phone and a phone emulating Android apps… the choice will be very simple,” he had said. “If Microsoft brings Android apps on Windows devices, nobody (except some fans) will create native apps anymore, they will only create Android apps. Consequence: bad user experience, bad performance, etc… clearly not a good idea.

We’ll probably get a confirmation on this by the end of the day. Microsoft is hosting its developer Build conference tonight where it will be discussing the next big changes coming to Windows mobile and desktop platforms. Many believe that the company won’t get any more chances to save its Windows phone platform if it fails to communicate compelling points at this year’s developer conference. Do you think bringing Android apps support to Windows Phone is the right way to go about it? Share your views in the comments section below.


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Author

Manish is pursuing a degree in Computer Science and Engineering but spends more time in writing about technology. He has written for a number of Indian and international publications including BetaNews, BGR India, WinBeta, MakeTechEasier, MediaNama, and Digit magazine among others. When not writing, you would find him ranting about the state of digital journalism on Twitter.

 
 

8 thoughts on “Run Android Apps on Windows Phone – Microsoft Will Reportedly Announce the Controversial Move at BUILD

  1. This should be interesting to watch. It will be a test to see if the people who claim that Windows Phone is failing due to an “app gap” are correct. If you can run Android apps on Windows Phone and they run about as well as on an Android phone and Google doesn’t deny access to things like Google Maps, etc., and after that if Windows Phone still doesn’t do well, then the app gap wasn’t the thing holding down the platform after all.

    It will almost certainly reduce the number of people developing native Windows Phone apps.
    I really think that if Microsoft had done things such as come up with Cortana before Siri and Google Now, that might have pushed up Windows Phone adoption a bit. The do-whatever-Apple-does-but-a-year-later strategy doesn’t seem like a good one.

  2. Surely windows phone loyalist are going to get infuriated with this step…i am a big fan of windows nd seriously this move isn’t gonna change anything…did it change the fate of blackberry which tried the similar step? No it didn’t

  3. Have been with Windows phone since it started, now at 8.1 it has improved and most apps are in the store, why use Android apps? Blackberry have gone this route ( i use BB10) and it’s not good many fail to launch or run correctly and latest up date to their OS update has ruined it, now Microsoft are thinking of using Android apps and windows phone 10 is not looking good,
    might as well buy a real Android phone instead of Windows phone.

  4. i appreciate the idea ..windows phone is so cool in terms of UI but if android apps can be built to work in wp and in the same UI way this wp will rock .its not about competition its about user friendliness and app availability that makes people happy and not to mention the hardware..so windows phone is just another option when it come sot choices…android phones will fail in the future so its good that windows mak euse of it now…or never….

  5. I think the author is missing a huge point. Why not abstract the API for the Apps away from the platform. The windows UI is far superior in my opinion to Apple’s IOS and Google Android. Get the best of both worlds. For niche apps that are not on the windows platform yet, utilizethe Android App. I don’t think this is giving up on their platform, its simply giving the user more bang for their buck. The real problem I believe is the illusion that there is no marker for windows phone and therefore why write an app for it. And as far as usability, implementation of android apps on Windows phone does not necessarily mean a performance decrease. A simple shim to provide the android API directly to the App will most likely be unnoticeable to the end user. Keep in mind that android is rioted in the same concepts as Java Runtime. Its a just in time engine which translates byte code to instructions. Microsoft will just need to provide that same translation at commensurate speeds. This will also be beneficial to Android as it provides a larger install base foe android developers.

  6. II think that if they make it so that we can have android apps on a Windows phone, it would be great. Cause, to me, Windows phones are one of the best phones out but my only issue, and it’s a big deal to me and almost everyone I know, is that I can’t get the apps I want. I actually switched from my Windows phone to an HTC, for my apps and I would switch back in a heart beat, if I could get android apps on a Windows phone….Love the phone, hate the app store. #ANDROIDAPPSFORWINDOWSPHONES

  7. App’s don’t change the phone. The phone will still be just as good but with even more thing to do I say go for it.

  8. yes they should allow android apps for windows phone because i dont want to pay for a app i have on google play from microsoft store because its not realy fair having to buy a app you have twice

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