Android Apps on Windows Phone


Windows Mobile users have continually struggled with availability of apps on the Platform. Around the time Windows Mobile 8 was launched there was an upswing and things looked positive, but the happiness was short lived as lesser and lesser apps were ported to Windows and more and more exiting without support as the platform struggled for market share (more on that in a separate blog).

The only ray of sunshine was Project Astoria wherein Microsoft built in a bridge to allow Android apps to be installed on Windows 10 Mobile in a Preview Build (10240) as an experiment, but eventually scrapped it in the very next build owing to copyright issues and choosing their own Universal Windows Platform over allowing Android app support.

The functionality to install Android apps on Windows 10 Mobile is limited to Build 10240 and is the only known way to get some Android apps on Windows mobile. You will need to flash Build 10240 to get this to work. Unfortunately, the build is very buggy and you cannot update or the installed apps will stop functioning.

Warning: Backup your device content before proceeding, odds of losing your data are very high. Not preferred to be done on a daily driver device and proceed if you have an extra spare phone to experiment with.

Step 1: Backup FFU file

Before flashing make sure you have a backup FFU. Flashing the 10240 FFU will change your product type so to revert back to normal you need to have a retail FFU file for your phone. 

If you have used the recovery tool before you should have a retail FFU file in C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Packages\Products

Else 
  • Download and Install Windows Device Recovery Tool
  • Connect your phone and run this tool
  • The existing FFU will be backed up to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Packages\Products
  • Your phone will be flashed to the base stock ROM

Step 2: Download W10M Build 10240 & Windows Phone Image Designer

Disclaimer: These ROMs are the sole property of Microsoft Corporation

DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE DONE TO YOUR PHONE.
WARNING: SOME PEOPLE HAVE BEEN GETTING A SECOND SIM ICON ON THEIR PHONES AFTER FLASHING THESE ROMS EVEN AFTER REVERTING BACK TO WINDOWS PHONE 8.1 USING THE WDRT OR A BACKUP FFU. THE ICON WILL NOT GO AWAY AND CURRENTLY THERE IS NOT A SOLUTION TO FIX IT. IT ONLY OCCURS ON SOME PHONES NOT ALL. DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK !!!

Step 3: Flash the Preview ROM 
  • Charge you phone to Full to ensure it doesnt turn off midway
  • Boot into UEFI mode by holding the Volume Up & Power buttons till phone restarts
  • A lightening bolt logo will be displayed on your screen indicating EUFI mode
  • Connect your phone to the computer with a USB cable
  • Launch Windows Phone Image Designer on your computer (start.bat)
  • Select flash a Windows Phone image onto your phone
  • Under flashable devices section, select the downloaded ROM
  • Click Flash to install the build on your phone

Step 4: Installing APK files

Very limited number of apps work with this method so expect installation to fail especially for more recent versions of applications

  • Download the APK you intend to install
  • Download APK Deployment App
  • Launch the APK Deployment App
  • In your Windows Phone settings enable Developer Mode & Device Discovery
  • Connect your phone using a USB cable and pair in the app
  • Deploy the downloaded APK using the app
And that is all you need to get Android apps working on Windows Mobile. As mentioned a few time above, do expect a lot of apks to not install or show installation complete but not appear in the application list.

While this is a fun activity to try out the possibility, it is no recommended for daily driver devices as the build has a lot of bugs like heating, battery life, errors. So if you have spare device and would like to experiment and learn something new, take this tutorial out for a spin.

And you are really serious about wanting to use Android apps, do what I did, carry an additional Android mobile :)

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