Programs that respect your privacy

Privacy Browser Android on Windows 11

Windows 11 has the option to run a Subsystem for Android, which is still fairly new but has reached the stage of general availability. Microsoft has partnered with Amazon to list apps from the Amazon Appstore in certain countries. There are a number of websites with instructions for setting up the Windows Subsystem for Android and the Amazon Appstore, but it basically boils down to making sure that virtualization is enabled in the BIOS, the Virtual Machine Platform Windows feature is installed, and then installing the Amazon Appstore from the Microsoft Store (it does require 8GB of RAM visible to the OS, which eliminates a large number of devices, including hardware with 8GB of RAM that shares some of it with the integrated video card). Inside the Amazon Appstore you can find Privacy Browser.

The top customer review makes me laugh. I wish there was some way I could respond and recommend they read the Guide inside the app.

It is also possible to sideload an app on the Windows Subsystem for Android. XDA has a pretty good set of instructions for how to do this. You can use them to install F-Droid and then use F-Droid to install other apps.

There is something almost ironic about browsing the web through Android on Windows.

Privacy Browser Android runs better on Windows 11 than I expected, although there is still room for improvement. Interfaces that flow well on a phone screen don’t always work as well on a desktop. In that regard, Privacy Browser PC will be a much better desktop browser when it has fully matured. There is also a performance issue that causes web pages to not scroll as smoothly as desired. This might improve over time as the Windows Subsystem for Android matures and provides a more efficient emulation environment. Below are a few notes I discovered in my testing.

Almost everything works as one would expect, including sliding open the drawers with a mouse.

The Windows Subsystem for Android is performing some sort of scaling that makes Android ImageViews look choppy.

Compare the bookmark and tab favorite icons, which are choppy, with the same image in the WebView, which looks great.

The Windows Subsystem for Android is running Android 13 with a fairly recent security update, but it is stuck on an older version of WebView. Hopefully Microsoft creates an easy or even automatic method for updating WebView, possibly as part of their monthly security updates, so that users don’t have to wait for the annual OS update to get WebView’s security fixes.

That is both newer than I expected and older than I would like.

WebView DevTools works exactly as expected.

For some reason I wasn’t expecting this to work.

You can even set Privacy Browser Android to be the default browser for all of Windows. In all of the Windows OS screens it refers to Privacy Browser Android by the short name, which is just Browser. This might be something that changes with a future update to the Windows Subsystem for Android.

This was the most surprising part to me. I was almost certain that they hadn’t built the plumbing necessary to set an Android app as a Windows default, but they have.

Privacy Browser can print as long as advance networking has been enabled and the local network is set as private (which instructs the Windows firewall to allow printing on the local subnet).

I had to restart my computer after making this change before it took effect.

If the Windows Subsystem for Android is not currently running, it will be started when Privacy Browser is launched. However, this takes several seconds. For those wanting to use Privacy Browser Android on a daily basis, you can instruct Windows to always keep the Android subsystem running.

It is nice that they give the users control over this.

One of the biggest annoyances of using the Windows Subsystem for Android is that the file system is completely separate from the Windows file system. In the future they will probably figure out some way to mount Android on Windows, similar to how you can access files from a phone plugged into a Windows computer with a cable. But currently the only way to move files back and forth is to use something like Nextcloud or email.

At least they expose the full file system to the Android apps themselves just like a standard Android phone or tablet.

Last updated

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *