Finally Run Useful Apps On A Windows Phone

Not every piece of technology or software can succeed, even with virtually unlimited funding and marketing. About the same number of people are still playing Virtual Boys as are using Google Plus, for example. In recent memory, the Windows Phone occupies the same space as these infamous failures, potentially because it was late to the smartphone game but primarily because no one wanted to develop software for it. But now, you can run Android apps on Windows Phones now. (Google Translate from German)

To be clear, this doesn’t support all Android apps or all Windows Phones, and it will take a little bit of work to get it set up at all. But if you still have one laying around you might want to go grab it. First you’ll need to unlock the phone, and then begin sending a long string of commands to the device which sends the required software to the device. If that works, you can begin loading Android apps on the phone via a USB connection to a PC.

This hack came to us via Windows Central and Reddit. It seems long and involved but if you have any experience with a command line you should be fine. It’s an interesting way to get some more use out of your old Windows Phone if it’s just gathering dust in a closet somewhere. If not, don’t worry; Windows Phones were rare even when they were at their most popular. We could only find one project in our archives that uses one, and that was from 2013.

30 thoughts on “Finally Run Useful Apps On A Windows Phone

    1. it’s not true.. there’s a windows 10 insider build version (10240) which has android 4.4 in it. so if you manage to get your phone to that version you can install apks in it

    2. In recent efforts the hacking team responsible for bringing full Windows 10 ARM onto the Lumia 950 (XL) have managed to bring Continuum into play. What that means is that you can connect your phone to a TV or monitor and use it like a regular PC! Finally the hassle of having to do everything through the small screen has been defeated. Please check out the latest tweet by imbushuo:

  1. The truth is Windows phones weren’t bad at all. The interface worked well on the device and even on the low end phones it was responsive and never felt laggy. But as we all know they were DOA from the lack of developers and apps.

    1. There were plenty of developers and apps. I even managed to track train times by the rail provider in Morocco.

      However the ‘big guns’ were very slow to move into the sphere, and google didn’t like WinPhone having app access to youtube (because it was ad-free)

    2. My Lumia 920 is still one of the best phones I’ve ever owned. The camera was amazing, the OS wasn’t laggy, and it worked well. As a development platform it wasn’t bad either.

      It’s a shame that Microsoft basically left it out to rot. I can understand why they abandoned it, but it’s still a shame.

      1. I am still actively using my HP Elite X3 and it does everything I want. I am looking into allowing Android Apps to run on it after coming across this webpage (will save me buying an Android Phone). I am a developer and want to write an App to run on IOS, Android and (yes) Windows, so the cheapest way is to buy a cheap IOS (is there such a thing) phone, and simply swap my SIM card around as I test each phone. It is exciting stuff, but I was so disappointed when Microsoft stopped the support for Windows Phone. At least my phone does everything I want and I basically do not run Apps on it (except the standard ones like Weather, News, Calendar etc.).

  2. Windows wasn’t late to the game. Microsoft had mobile on htc phones well before apple and Android. All the original smart phones where windows mobile and a bunch got ported to the first few verisions of androids

    1. Yes, Microsoft had an early lead in the handheld game.

      But it was very late to the “capacitive touch screen with touch-optimized user interface” game. And that turned out to be the only game that matters.

  3. My Windows Phone was easily the best mobile device I have used. I currently use an iPhone and aside from having updated apps, it still isn’t as useful in my daily life as my Nokia 928.

    I wish Microsoft has spent as much time supporting devs as it did creating dozens of different models of underpowered and cheap phones for developing markets.

    RIP Windows Phone.

      1. Specifically writing this comment from my Nokia Lumia 820, which I still own from 2013. It still works. YouTube, internet browsing, eBooks, Here Maps with offline navigation which I use non-stop (including international travel), music, radio,viber messenger. Things like Skype and weather app were working flawlessly until idiots at MS killed them. So that kind of apps am I missing?
        I hate MS managers and respect MS engineers – to you goes my sincere thanks for great product.

  4. Then there is some of us who would rather not have all those ‘apps’ except phone/text/pictures. And even then… I prefer not to have a phone on me most times…. Except right now my job requires it for on-call purposes. Can’t wait for retirement…. :)

  5. I still have my Windows Phone. Microsoft/Nokia actually made some great apps. The Lumia camera app is amazing. Office was available on Windows Phone for free, back when there were only paid, cloned apps for Android/IOS. The biggest drawback for me, is that there is no official IM clients on the Windows Phone OS. Even Skype is no longer supported, I believe, not that there are a lot of users.

      1. Alas, it seems WhatsApp support will end 31 Dec 2019 on my 4yo Windows 10 ‘640’. It may carry on working for a while, apparently, but won’t update. While world leaders will meet today to chat about global warming, millions of WhatsApp users prepare to chuck perfectly serviceable Windows, older Android and older Apple phones, and buy new phones. Green? Certainly not! It’s a a pain for older users who don’t care about up-to-dateness or impressing their friends, and just want their damned phones to go on doing what they do fine. Facebook (WA’s owners) and MS should be ashamed of blatantly disregarding so many users’ needs. It’s the car scrappage madness all over again, focussed on boosting new sales.

    1. Well, that is a plus for me :) Don´t need no im clients in my phone.

      I would buy a nice Nokia winphone from that chinese marketplace, if I could believe it is really new and not fake …..

  6. I still have a my windows 8 phone, loved it. Verizon won’t even let you activate it now. The reason ms lost the phone wars was because each version the code was completely incompatible and you had to rewrite the whole app every time. Ms has been floundering using their weight to force others around like the vb6/.net thing. To big to feel the pain or care what they inflict on others.

  7. Developing on Android is easy!

    All you need is a few hundred GB for:

    -Virtual Machines
    -A java IDE, which requires it’s own java engine, and just a few GB of helper libraries
    -As little as 16GB of RAM
    -As few as 4 cores, and only running 2.4Ghz
    -A little patience

    A “hello world” application on Android which displays a nice dialog box, can compile and run in just a few minutes!

    If you never shut down the machine, it will only get faster, due to Java’s “Just in time” compilation!

    I mean, who reboots anyway?

  8. Microsft’s big gaffe early on in the PDA/Smartphone era was sticking with 240×320 resolution long after Android had gone to higher resolution on all but the lowest end devices. Apple was able to avoid going to higher resolutions for a while because most iProduct users don’t give a damn about specifications as long as it comes with a fruit on it.

    Microsofts *other* dumb idea with mobile was the original name, Windows Compact Edition or Windows CE which people shortened to Win CE or WinCE. Literally ouch. That’s right up there with Star Trek Discovery or STD, though Trekkies/Trekkers will insist it’s ST:D or DSC.

    Microsoft’s *other other* dumb idea was the Kin phones. Powerful enough to be full fledged smartphones they were deliberately hobbled to be almost as bad as feature phones, intended to tie users to Microsoft’s own messaging and early social media systems. They failed miserably and (IIRC) lasted less than a year in the market.

    Palm was the “special child” of the lot. They had a few devices with higher resolution, a max of 640×480 and their PDA or phone models with W in the name ran Pocket PC or Windows Phone. HaD should do a retro tech article all about the damnfool idiot decisions Palm made that destroyed the company, like running off the originators (who formed Handspring), splitting the company into hardware and software divisions, selling off Palm OS to another company then refusing to use the new Palm OS 6 developed by ACCESS, then further pissing on their loyal userbase by moving to Pocket PC/Win Mobile and finally coming up with WebOS, selling out to HP, and the last straw, pulling PalmOS support out of the second version of WebOS. As long as WebOS had the PalmOS 5 emulation, people were happy to buy the phones because they could continue to use most of their old apps while developers worked on new WebOS apps. Medical students were very happy with the first WebOS because at the time the #1 apps for med students were all for PalmOS.

  9. MS totally dropped the ball on WP, as it was clearly the best mobile OS out there. My employees, family and I all switched our daily drivers to Android a year ago, once the end of WP was inevitable, and MS was supporting migrations to Android, not iOS. The move was horrible, these newer Android phones (all running the latest versions of Android) are slower, less stable, less secure and way less efficient to use that our old Lumia 950s and 950XLs. I still use my XL as test bed, running both Win10 mobile and Win10 Pro 64 bit (dual boot), which runs way better than I had anticipated. I hope that MS will bring back the telephony stack to the current Win10 builds (dropped last summer), so that people who chose to run the desktop builds on their Lumias (or any other mobile devices) can use them to make and receive phone calls and SMS text messages, even if MS does not want to call these devices “phones”.

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