Microsoft's Windows-to-Android bridge now lets Windows 10 users run multiple Android apps simultaneously, but only on select Samsung Galaxy devices – and there's a long list of caveats about functionality.
"We are happy to announce that the multi-apps experience is now ready for you to try. You can experience the power and convenience of running multiple Android mobile apps side by side on your Windows 10 PC on supported Samsung devices," said Brandon LeBlanc, program manager for the Windows Insider program.
Microsoft in August rolled out a feature that allowed Android apps to be streamed to its own window on Windows 10 PCs running the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, version 1809, or later. But Your Phone didn't support multiple apps. It now does but it might be buggy.
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LeBlanc says the new Your Phone experience launches apps in separate windows, allowing people to use apps at the same time, even if the Your Phone app is closed.
A key benefit is that users don't need to install apps on a Windows 10 PC and most importantly, they don't need to sign in to an app again.
"Pin your apps to Favorites, Windows 10 taskbar or Start menu for quick and easy access. And moreover, you can now search for your previously pinned apps via Windows search from within your Start app list," said LeBlanc.
The multi-app feature started rolling out last Thursday to select Samsung Galaxy phones including the Note20 5G, Note20 Ultra 5G, Z Fold2 5G, Z Flip, Z Flip 5G running Android 10 with Link to Windows (LTW).
It was available to Windows Insiders on the Dev, Beta, and Release Preview Channels. The reason it wasn't immediately available to all users was that it was a server-side change that takes some time for Microsoft to roll out.
Microsoft said on its Answers forum that the multi-app experience is still an early preview so users should expect to run into issues.
The Your Phone app on a PC needs to be version 1.20102.132.0 or higher, which is available from the Microsoft Store. The Your Phone companion app – Link to Windows on your Samsung device version 1.20102.133.0 or higher – is available from the Google Play store.
Users also need to install the Link to Windows Service version 2.1.05.2 or newer from Samsung's Android Galaxy Store. It's a beta program that can be accessed from an applicable Samsung device. The link will ask users to open Galaxy Store and then click on 'Participate' and log in with a Samsung account.
There are some pretty significant shortcomings with the system in its current state, which requires that both the PC and Samsung device are on the same Wi-Fi network.
"Some apps might block the ability to cast to another screen, so you may see it as a black screen," says Microsoft.
Additionally, some games and apps won't react to mouse or keyboard inputs, so for now it's only for 2-in-1 PCs for those apps.
"You'll need to use a touch-enabled PC to interact with them," Microsoft says.
Also, when users open an Android app via Your Phone, they may notice that sound isn't transmitted to the PC.
The Samsung smartphone must be on and unlocked to use the Apps feature. But users can unlock the device from a PC after launching an app if needed.
"Apps that are installed under work profile or secondary profiles will not be shown in the Your Phone App list. If you wish to interact with those apps, you can open them via the Phone screen functionality," Microsoft notes.
There are also several known issues, including a big one that affect Google's Gmail app on Android.
"When using the Android Gmail app on PC to reply to an existing thread, the reply will not contain any fields including recipient's email, subject or previous thread if included. This issue is fixed for users running Android 11," Microsoft warns.
Other issues that Microsoft lists include:
- If you update to 20H1 after receiving the app update, launching an app pinned from Start/taskbar may not work. A clean install of 20H1 or newer will not have this issue.
- Narrator might not work properly for specific apps like Bixby, Camera, AR Zone.
- Some messages may still show in English only.
- If you don't have the latest update to the Link to Windows service, clicking on a notification via toast or in the notifications feed won't launch the app if no other apps are running via the Your Phone app. You can work around this by opening the app from the app list first or having any other app open before clicking on the notification. This issue is fixed in the latest Link To Windows service, 2.1.05.1 or newer, available via the Galaxy Store Beta program.