Rejoice Chromebook users, the Android Play Store, with all of its tens of millions of apps, is finally coming to the Chrome OS, as announced at Google I/O today. You’ll soon be able to install any Android app and run it natively on any of your Chromebooks.
According to IDC reports, Chrome is now the second most popular operating system in the U.S overtaking Apple’s OS X. As we had earlier reported, there was no hiding the fact that Android apps were coming to the Chrome OS very soon, because users have seen some options pop-up indicating the same. The OS already got support for a handful of Android apps back in 2014, but now there is no bounds to the number of applications available for use.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Chrome OS director of product management Kan Liu busted the myth that the Android apps are not actually running on ‘App Runtime on Chrome’, as it had been in many leaked source codes. Earlier versions of Chrome implemented ARC to run some Android apps, but that didn’t provide a native experience and developers had to work hard to bend the apps to work accordingly.
The new platform that allows Android apps to run on Chrome OS has been built form the ground up. Android on Chrome OS now runs inside a Linux container and developers won’t have to spend nights editing code to make it run on the platform. This change allows the apps to run natively on the platform, free form any hidden code or emulation. Android and Chrome OS will now use the same linux kernel to perform tasks, so you can easily access the whole Chrome OS file system, as well as the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth stack in your applications.
The performance of Chrome OS is now top-notch, because it isn’t hampered by the ARC runtime anymore. The developers will now be able to customize their apps to show in three different window sizes, adding the necessary pizzazz to their application. Along with three window sizes, It also brings along with it some of the multi-windows support features over from Android N to make the OS more robust and capable.
The Android image ported onto the Chrome OS is Marshmallow, because Android N is still incomplete and requires testing. Since Android is now available natively you will be able see notifications and pop-ups from all the applications on your Chromebook. The apps which get ported now also possess offline capabilities, handing over control back to you(who can decide whether you want to sync the data or not).
You will not be able to access the Play Store on Chrome OS right away, but the functionality will be available for use to all later this year. The OS will be available to use only on select devices -mostly touch enabled like Google’s own Pixel C. It will give developers the benefit of improving the keyboard support for touch devices, which will later make its appearance on a wider basis. Chrome OS software engineers Dylan Reid and Elijah Taylor in the official announcement said that,
Later this year you can expand your app’s reach to a new hardware platform and wider audience while maximizing the Google Play ecosystem. With expanded app availability, new use cases and improved workflows can be achieved for all Chromebook users.
The addition of Android apps to the platform will surely appease some, while make some others question the integrity and future of the OS. The question that will surely arise is whether Google wants to ultimately bring over all functionalities from Android, then why not scrap Chrome OS and use Android on PC’s instead?’ But, Google is doubling down to make Chrome OS stand out from Android and become an individual platform that runs on laptops and hybrid computers. They would never scrap either one, but work extensively to provide you with the best of both world.