Apps

Google is finally bringing Android apps to Chromebooks

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Google’s Play Store, home to more than 1 million Android apps, is finally moving beyond the confines of Android.

Chrome OS, the operating system that powers Chromebooks, is getting support for the Play Store, Google announced Thursday during a session at its I/O developer conference.

Though Google previewed the news Thursday, Android apps won’t officially launch until later in 2016. But developers can begin to optimize their apps for Chrome OS ahead of the launch.

Once the Google Play Store is available to Chromebooks, users will be able to download Android apps to their desktop — even if they don’t have a web or desktop version. During a demo Thursday, Senior Director of Product Management Kan Liu showed off Clash of Clans, Adobe’s and Photoshop Mix running on a Chromebook.

Any app that’s available in Google Play on Android will also be available in Google Play on Chrome, though there may be some device-specific restrictions (phone dialer apps, for example, may not be available since they require a cellular connection.)

Still, developers will be able to optimize their apps for Chrome OS — by creating better experiences for mouse and keyboard input, for example — beginning in June, if they have an Asus Chromebook Flip, Chromebook Pixel (2015) or Acer Chromebook R11. You can see a full list of supported device here.

While some had speculated that Google would also bring Android apps to its Chrome browser, Google said this change was limited Chrome OS, at least for now.

More than two years in the making, the move marks the biggest step yet toward Google’s goal of creating a more unified experience between Chrome and Android.

Google first began to bring Android apps to Chrome OS in 2014 as part of a project called App Runtime for Chrome, but relatively few developers took advantage of the capability. And since then, rumors have persisted that Google planned to merge Android and Chrome. Meanwhile, Chromebooks themselves are more popular than ever. Research firm IDC reported that Chromebooks outsold Macs for the first time during the first quarter of 2016 — a stat Google touted during its announcement Thursday.

Now Google has finally offered a look into its vision for the future of Chrome OS.

Update: This story has been updated to clarify that Android apps are only coming to Google Play on Chrome OS. An earlier version said the apps would be available on the Chrome browser, as well.

Source: mashable.com

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