Android Apps on Chrome OS? What is it really like? (At least, for now)

Google Chrome

When Google announced that Chrome OS would be able to get the true Play Store, as in the same Play Store found on Android devices, it’s pretty fair to say us and everyone saw this as a stupid idea, and those who didn’t have seriously not thought through how this would work (keyboard and mouse, versus Touch and motion), so we thought it was really best to at least get a look at how this experience actually works, if it does, and how the experience is today, only fair.

Not to spoil this post early, but whilst we were made surprised recently with the iPad Pro post we did, which made us re-think our thoughts on our entire view of that, we’re not left quite so convinced with this one, BUT we do see the potential that much we will say.

Compatibile Chromebooks (only 3 … but really just 1)

The idea most people will have grasped from the news that Chrome OS would be getting the Google Play Store and would be able to install native apps, would be great it will work on all Chromebooks and we’ll be good to go …..oohhh no, only 3 Chromebooks (at least at time of this post) can even run the Play Store, and based on current build of Chrome OS (unless Dev Preview), only 1, yes that’s just the one, Chromebook has it now.

  1. ASUS Chromebook Flip (the one you can now)
  2. Acer Chromebook R11 C738T
  3. Chromebook Pixel (2015)

But, we’re not about to let this lack of choice of devices ween us from checking out what the experience is. One thing we will say though, if you have the ASUS Chromebook Flip, or are thinking of getting one for the Play Store, first of all don’t, but if you are going to please go for the 4GB of RAM version.

However, just to rewind, wouldn’t it be great to install native applications on Chromebooks, of course it would, however remember you are installing applications made for Phone and Tablets, which leads us to the resulting experience, which is something to definitely keep in mind.

Experience

One of the big limitations of using a Chromebook with actual Google Play applications derives around the experience. As you may or may not know, the way that Android is coded to interact with Screen resolution and aspect ratio means that the Chromebooks in question will be running Applications oriented towards Tablets the majority of the time, meaning whether you run the YouTube, Twitter etc application, you will be running the as-Tablet version for Android devices, which in itself bares a bigger question, why do this?

Android Central did a fantastic post on this as well, where they agree with our view on that the majority of Applications you’d probably install on to a Chromebook with the Play Store, end up actually being Application and services that actually work better in the Browser, as shown in this YouTube example.

We think what people are expecting out of this is completely wrong, if you’re seriously expecting Google Play coming to Chromebooks as being the destroying factor of the PC or Tablets, think again, as those devices are popularised by form factor, not just the ability to run some Store.

But what about Games? Well, the limit of Games that would actually install and open without hiccups suffer from a problem I very much expected, you control them using Touch controls, which sure you can use and operate with the Mouse/Trackpad, but unless you find a very limited number of Games that work for Android Tablet convertibles that work with a Keyboard, the experience is one which is horrendous, and we’re not too surprised why.

Potential is the Key

Play Store running on both Android and Chrome OS
Play Store running on both Android and Chrome OS (ASUS Chromebook Flip)

Would we recommend using Chromebooks with the Play Store? Hell no, but the fact that the option is going to be there (limited now naturally) will be the real decisive factor for most consumers, but the important thing to take out of it, isn’t that it’s terrible today, but what it will be tomorrow and that’s something we honestly can’t wait to check out.

One of the big factors of potential this brings to the Chrome OS platform, really is the one thing it’s being missing, native applications on device. Despite that you can see Application icons on a Chromebook, they are all Web apps with incredibly limited offline functionality, but with the Play Store the possibilities could really be endless.

What we would like to see more than this, because we actually think the Play Store, as it is, is just a testing factor for Google to see how Android code runs on Chrome OS, now they know it runs, the real product we’d expect will be coming soon, i.e Google Play for Chromebooks, in which case you then may find it’s not the iPads and Android Tablets they’re competing with, but the Windows Store and Mac App Store in the end once we get decent native applications running on Android code, and more importantly OPTIMISED for Chrome OS hardware.

Published by R-Tech

R-Tech is the source of all the latest Technology posts on RKUK Media.

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