Windows 11’s big Android update brings native apps-like file sharing and more

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Microsoft is rolling out more updates to Windows Subsystem for Android than Surface Duo phones. While Surface Duo awaits new firmware releases, Microsoft has quietly published a big update for Windows Subsystem for Android. This update began rolling out on June 1 and comes with the highly requested feature – file sharing.

Microsoft officials confirmed to me that the Windows Subsystem for Android has finally gained support for “file sharing”. This feature is included in version 2305.40000.2.0, and it can change the way Android apps interact with files stored in the local storage.

For example, Android apps can access your pictures, documents, or anything in your local storage. You can now directly upload photos from local storage to Android apps like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. This also means you can seamlessly upload a video to an editing app.

Individual file sharing is also supported so you can drag and drop files from File Explorer to any Android app. Some apps also support clipboard content, similar to how the clipboard works between a virtual machine and Windows.

It is worth noting that Windows Subsystem for Android will access all your files in the local storage. Your user profile folder (C:UsersMayank) is default opened as “/sdcard/Windows” in the Subsystem. While apps can now access your local pictures or files, they must request your permission.

When Android apps attempt to access the local storage, a pop-up requesting access to read and write local storage will appear within the Android app. As always, you can revoke the permission granted to Android apps from app settings. This resembles how permissions and privacy settings work in traditional Android phones.

WSA built-in security protects your device

Microsoft has also integrated its Windows Defender security features into Windows Subsystem for Android to protect the sandboxed environment and the Windows installation against malicious apps that may abuse the permissions feature.

This new security update will automatically block suspicious apps during their installations.

An official told me that Microsoft plans to block threats from either sideloaded apps or the app installed from the Amazon Appstore.

It is worth noting that there are certain limitations. For example, the company will automatically block “.exe” from sharing. This also applies to other risky file extensions and Subsystem apps will be blocked if they try to save a file with a .exe file extension.

If files in the local storage are online only, they must be downloaded to the device before WSA can access them. WSA does not have access to Windows 11’s online-only files, i.e. files on OneDrive, but synced to Windows. To access files in cloud storage like OneDrive, download them to the local storage first.

In addition to the file-sharing feature, it’s safe to assume Microsoft also patched Android 13 in WSA with May 2023 security patch.

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