Your Chromebook is about to get a million extra apps
The Chromebook is about to get a real shot in the arm. A million extra shots, actually, as Google announced that Android apps would indeed run on Chromebooks and Chromeboxes, confirming an earlier Reddit leak.
While the previoius, limited app support used ARC (Android Runtime for Chrome), the new approach runs within a Linux container on Chrome OS, meaning that developers won’t have to do anything extra to make their apps work. It also means there’s no emulation at play, and all apps run within a protected sandbox mode – based on Android Marshmallow for now.
Before you get too excited, bear in mind that the change isn’t coming overnight. The feature will first come to the Chrome OS dev channel in June, but even then it will only run on a number of handpicked devices – specifically those with touch screens like the Chromebook Pixel. The idea, according to Tech Crunch, is that this slower roll-out will give developers time to optimise their apps for keyboards should they decide it’s worth the effort.
This has been rumoured to be coming for a while, with one eagle-eyed Redditor spotting the feature in the wild last month.
For a split second on bootup, said Redditor spotted an option simply labeled “Enable Android apps to run on your Chromebook”, before the tickbox vanished again. Another user was quick to reply the screengrab below, but added “Does not work yet, so don’t get too excited… Google I/O should be interesting this year though.”
This is a huge deal. Right now, you’re limited to the Chrome Web Store if you want to run apps on your Chromebook. There are a fair few apps in there, of variable quality, and back in 2012, Google proudly announced that Chromebook apps had been downloaded 750 million times.
But Google has been a bit more quiet about the stats since, which suggests the environment is stagnating. And even that huge number is a drop in the ocean when you compare things to the Google Play store on Android, which managed 50 billion downloads in 2014 alone.
Now it has been officially confirmed, it’ll do nothing to stem the rumours that the two systems will one day be merged.
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