If you have already seen/used a Chromebook, you can skip this intro. It is a different type of Laptop which works on Google’s Linux based Chrome OS. It is a device for netizens, the young generation, live on the internet. The laptop is designed for use with a live internet connection. The application and data reside in the cloud. The device is not very new, and the first release by Samsung was in 2011. Google G Suite is available offline in the new versions.
Steps from Google
If you visit Google support to install the new feature of running Android Apps on your Chrome book, they explain it in two simple steps.
Step 1: Get the Google Play Store app, under which you have to update your Chromebook software to the latest edition. Sign-in to Play Store and enable it on your Chromebook.
Step 2: Get Android apps where you have to find the Android Apps of your choice and download the same. It has no connection with your Android phone, and you may download the same Apps again for Chromebook.
The Developers can optimise their apps for Chromebooks. Android apps are now available on these Chromebooks:
- ASUS Chromebook Flip C100PA
- Acer Chromebook R11 / C738T / CB5-132T
- Google Chromebook Pixel (2015)
Steps Explained in Details
First of all, you can check whether your Chromebook is in the Google list where you can currently install Android Apps. The latest versions do have compatibility but check for earlier versions. Alternatively, you can switch to the developer channel and try using Android Apps.
For supported Chromebooks, you can start with this step
You need the latest version or at least Chrome OS 53 or later to use this feature. It means, if your OS is old, you need to update the same. As you know, there are multiple advantages of updating any OS, and this is a chance for you to spend some time on OS updates. Once you update any OS, you need to restart the system for changes to implement and then take the next steps.
After OS update, go to the status area and go to settings. Visit Google Play Store section and enable the same. As usual, agree to the terms and conditions and apply settings. After opening the Play Store, there are some more terms and conditions you have to agree. Now, you can proceed to install Apps of your choice.
If your Chromebook is not on the list of approved hardware, then what?
Developer channel is a channel for those who want to experiment with new software. It can include any employees, IT professionals and freelance web developers. Switching to this channel is being ready to accept the risks associated with installing an untested software on your system. Remember, going back to old status is a ‘factory reset.’ Hey! So, there is one more step you need to take this step. It is ‘full data backup’ in case you are storing any local files. With Chromebook, you are expected to store everything on internet drives mainly ‘Google Drive.’
Switching to Developer Channel
Once you are ready to take the risk, you have to visit the status area and Settings cog. The About Chrome OS will let you know your current version number and channel. You still have to go through the OS update process and once the OS is updated, come back to this page.
Here you have to click on ‘Change Channel’ option which opens a dialog box to select a new channel. You can see ‘Beta’ and ‘Developer – Unstable’ channels, and you are going to select the Developer-Unstable channel. Your device is updated, and you are in the developer mode now. Restart after channel updates and get ready to install Android Apps.
Install Android Apps
Open the Google Play Store from your Chromebook and log-in as usual. You will be able to see Google Play Store in your apps tray. As you know, you have to agree with terms as well as data collection authority. It is just to setup Play stores and once you have Play Store installed, start selecting the Android Apps.
Optimise Apps for Chromebooks (Developers Only)
As a developer, you may go through below steps to optimise Apps for use with Chromebook. The freelance designers have a bit of work here.
- Update Your App’s Manifest File
- Leverage Support for Multi-Window Mode
- Support the Keyboard, Trackpad, and Mouse
- Check for Networking Requirements
- Use Backup and Restore, update libraries
- Resolve Issues with Screen Size and Camera Image Previews
- Test Your App and set up ADB
Update Manifest File
It is the most critical but required step because of key differences between an Android device and any Chromebook. You are going to make code changes to the manifest file (AndroidManifest.xml) to achieve this. Refer to developer website for Android for exact code changes.
Support Keyword, Trackpad, and Mouse
Many existing Android apps support mouse and trackpad interactions, and they can work with your Chromebook with physical keyword and mouse. You can provide hotkeys because of the physical keyword support.
To understand the technological differences, you should know that Android OS is running in a container on the Chromebooks. So, the Android OS does not have direct access to the system’s LAN interface. It blocks the internal connections and of the device and a special interface is required between Android and LAN.
Instead, IPv4 traffic will pass through an internal layer of network address translation (NAT), and IPv6 unicast traffic gets routed through an extra hop. Outbound connections work well, but the inbound connections get blocked. Android OS uses the host OS IPv4 address for connections. The container software has a dedicated public IPv6 address for external connections.
It is interesting to install new OS, new Apps and new explore new technology. As a developer, you have a lot to perform for using this feature, and you can provide this support to your clients. A good task if you are into accepting for freelance jobs. Enjoy running any Android Apps on your Chromebook and also learn to optimise them.