Within just a few days ago, I was happily surprised to see the Google Play Store show up on my Acer Chromebook 15 (C910) after installing an update. My Chromebook is on the developer channel, so if you happen to own this same device, hang in there, the Play Store is coming!
Being the excitable nerd that I am, I dropped everything I was doing to try out the new ability to install and run Android apps on my Chromebook. I am pleased to say that while not all Android apps will work, many, many do, and for me, they’re running very well with no crashes. After a few days of some trial and error, I thought I would share my experiences with our readers.
Why Android on a Chromebook?
I’ve had some ask me, “Why do you even want Android apps on a laptop?”
Well, in some cases, such as Slack, Facebook Messenger, Google Calendar, or Discord, I don’t want the Android app. The desktop (web app) is actually of equal quality or even better.
However, in the case of Telegram, I do not care for the web app. Telegram has desktop apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux, but I can’t use any of those on a Chromebook. Now, I’ve installed the Android version of Telegram on my Chromebook and it works like a charm! The camera, photo sharing, and notifications all work.
Instagram another great example. Have you ever accessed Instagram via the web app in your browser? In comparison, it blows. It’s restrictive. You can’t upload images (without hacks). You cannot see stories. The Android app on a Chromebook though gives me a large view of Instagram – stories and all! It’s fantastic!
Edit 21/11/2017: I went on Instagram.com today to find out the developers have added Stories to the web app now. I think I’ll still use the Android app on my Chromebook, but I felt I should update this to say having access to Stories in the Android app is no longer a 1-up over the web app.
One feature I had wanted was simply to control my lighting from Chromebook. Now I can! The Philips Hue app installs and runs perfectly well for me. No issues. The WeMo app, however, would not install. That may work at a later date.
Games, games, and more games!
By far, the most popular app genre the Google Play Store shows on the Chromebook are games, and I couldn’t be more thankful as a gamer. I don’t play a lot of games at all on my phone. On a Chromebook, I haven’t come across any web based games I liked. Now, thanks to Android apps, there are a slew of games available to download and try out. Most work too. I’ve come across three so far that the controls just don’t work well with a touchpad, and I don’t have a touchscreen on my Chromebook. Your experiences will therefore vary depending on what you own.
Some Android apps will never work on a Chromebook
I suppose I should never say never. At this time though, there are many Android apps I wouldn’t expect (or want) to work.
For example. Don’t go trying to install launchers, like Nova Launcher, Action Launcher Pro, or Lawnchair. Even if you were able to install them, they wouldn’t do anything. And with mentioning launchers, the same goes for icon packs. Chrome OS would have no idea how to apply those.
Automation apps, like Tasker, are another example. With all of the things those apps can control and automate, they cannot control functions within Chrome OS.
Android on a Chromebook is awesome
I’m tickled pink with having Android apps on my Acer Chromebook 15. It’s rejuvenated my laptop and brought on a whole lot more fun and functionality.
What about you? Does your Chromebook have access to the Play Store? What Android apps/games have you installed? Let me know in the comment section below!