Android Apps for Chromebook

By February 7, 2019Apps, How-To

There’s a good chance your Chromebook or the Chrome OS device you are considering supports Android apps.

Expanding Chromebook apps to include the Google Play Store has made Chrome OS devices much more valuable as a Windows or MacOS alternative.

Read on, and find out what devices are supported, how to setup the device, and how to add Android apps to your Chromebook.

Which Chromebooks Support Android Apps

While it had some excellent utility for a low-end price tag, the list of Chromebook apps initially was limited to Chrome extensions and apps specifically designed for Chrome OS.

The lack of a thriving app ecosystem hindered the overall adoption because critics often compared it to a Windows-based or MacOS-based computer.

However, with a vast number of apps on Google Play and a similar device in terms of internal hardware, supporting the Android ecosystem was able to add a lot of functionality for a relatively low cost.

The initial attempts failed and didn’t work well with Android apps. After a scrapping the project for a more promising implementation, Chrome OS officially began supporting Android apps on limited devices in 2016.

Since the hardware and operating systems aren’t the same, there couldn’t be 100% support, but the people behind Chrome OS have continually added support for additional devices.

Chromebooks created after this feature was announced for the OS most likely included the necessary components. If your device was made in 2017 or after, it should come with this feature built-in.

If you have an earlier model, there is still a good possibility that your device supports Android apps. A list of devices that supoort Android apps can be found on the Chromium Projects Website.

How to Check if Your Chromebook Supports Android Apps

If you want to be able to check from your device, first check to make sure you are running Chrome OS 53 or higher. This is done by clicking on the time in the bottom-right corner > Settings > Menu > About Chrome OS.

If the device is running Chrome OS 53 or higher, you can check if the “Google Play Store” section is available in Settings. If it is, congratulations! Your device supports Android apps.

You can “Turn on” the “Install apps and games from Google Play on your Chromebook” option. In the window that comes up, you will need to agree to the Terms of Service. Once you click I Agree, you are ready to install some Android apps.

One note to make here, is that if your Chrome OS device is part of an organization or school, your device may not be allowed to enable this feature even if it’s a supported device.

While in most cases, this is a great feature, some organizations may not want to expose their devices to the Android ecosystem.

If you need any additional help on your Chromebook setup, leave a comment or head over to Chromebook Help Center.

How to Install Android Apps

The process from here is rather simple because it basically mirrors what happens on an Android device. Here are the basic steps:

  • Open the Google Play Store app or navigate to play.google.com
  • Search for the app you want, or browse the recommended apps
  • Click on the one you want
  • Click on the Install button (or it will have a price listed if it’s a paid app)

Once downloaded the android apps can be used and managed like your other Chromebook apps.

What to Expect from Android Apps

Generally, you should have a very nice experience with the news apps. However, most Android Apps were design with a touch-screen smartphone or tablet in mind.

This means that some apps may not be very easy to use with a mouse and keyboard. With some Chromebooks not having touchscreens, these apps may be more trouble than they are worth.

Fortunately, this case should be few and far between, and with some of these having browser-based web apps, few users should run into this issue, if at all.