Back in 2014, Google promised that ChromeOS machines would be able to run Android apps: a feature that would, in theory, make life easier for developers and more convenient for users. The functionality has not been in any great rush to arrive, but at last, it appears that users can finally access their Android apps on ChromeOS PCs — provided you have one very specific model of Chromebook: the Asus Chromebook Flip.
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A Reddit thread on the topic reveals that a Flip owner calling himself NeoOfTheDark used a beta build of ChromeOS (Version 53.0.2768, to be precise) on Chrome Canary: Google’s developer-focused version of Chrome. This release informed him that Google Play would now be available on his Chromebook, and other Redditors eagerly flocked to the update to see if it was true. It was, at least for other Asus Flip devices. Users have also tried the update on Asus C200 and Asus R11 machines, but neither one seems to handle Android apps properly. Even Google’s own Chromebook Pixel cannot yet run them.
Users have already tested a variety of Android apps, including Skype, Sync, Slack, MXPlayer, Kindle, and YouTube. Not every app works perfectly, but most of them are at least in good working order. Games, too, seem to run pretty well, including Crossy Road, Alto’s Adventure, Real Racing 3 and console emulators. While Android apps on ChromeOS still have room to improve, the feature seems to be off to a strong start.
Since the functionality is still restricted to a developer version of Chrome, it may still be a while before it trickles down to the average user. Then again, since Google does not restrict Canary downloads, anyone can try it out, at least. There’s no hard timetable on when other Chromebooks will gain (or iron out) the ability to run Android apps, or when the everyday version of Chrome will catch up with its developer counterpart. At the very least, it’s closer now than it was back in 2014.