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Android apps coming to Chrome OS is a huge deal; Here’s how it’ll work

by Brandon Russell | May 19, 2016May 19, 2016 11:45 am PDT

Android apps in Chrome OS? It’s happening and it’s a bigger deal than you think. In addition to making Chromebooks more powerful, the new feature has the potential to take Google’s growing software out of the niche and into the mainstream. Here’s how it’ll work.

As detailed on Google’s developer portal, using Android apps in Chrome OS will be seamless for users already familiar with the Android ecosystem. According to Google, Android apps can be shown in 3 different window sizes, with the ability to run multiple Android apps at once. Maybe this is why Google didn’t mention tablets on stage yesterday.

In addition, users will get Android notifications on their Chromebooks, with keyboard, mouse, and touch input all supported. These functions will help push the capabilities of Chrome OS and open Chromebooks up to an established world of content, making them a more powerful alternative to Macs and PCs.

The best part, however, is that Chromebooks will no longer be so reliant on having an internet connection. With Android apps, a local, Wi-Fi-free experience will be emphasized, allowing users to be productive when an internet connection isn’t available. Chrome OS is a neat idea but the web was never designed to be offline. With Android apps, the software is going to become a lot more powerful, evolving in a way that feels natural.

Google claims performance from demanding apps is “excellent” though we’ll have to wait and see if that holds true. Sure, they might work well on a top-of-the-line Chromebook Pixel, but cheaper alternatives might struggle to keep up.

As was the familiar mantra at I/O yesterday, Android apps will come to Chrome OS later this fall, with developers encouraged to start testing their apps now. Based on the information Google is sharing, Android apps coming to Chromebooks is a bigger deal than the company is letting on.

According to an IDC report, Chromebook shipments outpaced Macs in the U.S. during Q1 of this year. With Android apps on the way, I can see Chromebooks becoming a major competitor to Macs and PCs everywhere, especially if they remain cheap.

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...