The world is full of people who have great ideas. Not only that, there are those other people who help another set of people to realize their great ideas and bring them to fruition.
Sadly that’s where all those sunshine and rainbow moments end.
Google has now cooked up a really useful idea of android apps being able to run on Chromebooks. The main problem is getting the developers on board and getting the project up and running quickly.
For many, the most exhilarating statement at Google I/O back in May went completely under the radar as it wasn’t even part of the opening day keynote.
The announcement that, to many, was the most significant one of the whole conference actually came on the second day and of course it was that starting from later this year, Chromebooks will be able to support the Play Store and the Android apps.
Long time fans of Chrome OS seemed genuinely optimistic about the prospect of having more apps available and better offline applications to get work done.
But the one point almost everyone agrees on is that Chromebook needs to get out of Google Chrome’s (the much-extolled internet browser) massive shadow and needs to hold its own out in the world.
It is true that Play Store won’t actually be available on all Chromebooks until later this year but there is a neat trick that you can make use of in order to check it out before any of your friends do.
But first, for this technique to work, you are going to need an ASUS Chromebook Flip.
Then you need to install Chrome developer channel on it in order to have an early sneak peak at Android apps which are due out in a few months.
You will be well within your rights if you ask the question that how much of a difference it makes to the overall experience of a Chromebook if you have Android apps running on it.
Well, that is what we are going to find out here.
Let’s just get this out the way from the get go that there are some really good points about the whole Android on Chrome OS thing. But then there are the not so good parts. We’ll start with the good ones as it is culturally more acceptable.
Mind you, because Android apps have not been launched officially yet, you will definitely encounter some bugs and glitches in the current lot of apps that are available. But these shouldn’t be counted against the concept as Google is likely to iron out all such hindrances once it officially brings Android apps to Chromebooks.
The first thing you would notice, if you have been using Play Store on your Android phone or tablet, is that everything looks the same once you enter Play Store on Chromebook Android apps.
The interface is rather comfortable and you would find that the majority of the apps available are compatible with Asus Chromebook Flip. At least all the applications that run on tablets definitely run on Chromebook Flip as well.
If you just take a minute or two to install apps that interest you or install the ones you already have on your mobile phone, you would start to feel that the apps work just about as well as they would on an Android phone.
But the more interesting part is that most of Chrome OS web apps are better than their Android counterparts. Some might say this is shocking, but believe me it is not.
Android apps will change your experience on a Chromebook but it would be nothing revolutionary.
Now you might be tempted to think that Chrome OS web apps are just better than Android apps. That, unfortunately, would be wrong.
The Chrome OS web apps perform better on Chromebooks not because they are inherently of a better built or whatever, but because they are optimized to be used on a laptop screen.
Android apps, on the other hand, are suited more to touch screens and that should be evident to anyone using Android apps on a Chromebook Flip.
Sometimes the apps would work just fine but other times, some of the functions that you’re so used to on your Android Phone or Chrome OS web apps would not exist from the beginning on Android apps.
That can prove to be quite annoying on some occasions.
Two very good examples where the differences between the Android version and the Chrome OS version stand out the most are Google Docs and the Slack application.
Google Docs can be pretty handy on a mobile phone but the Chrome OS version allows you more real estate and it is generally easier to look into menus and access features that you don’t usually use when on a mobile phone because of the interface.
The Play Store on Chrome OS, is strangely refined enough to actually not disappoint anyone because there is always the hope that once the developers come to grips with the new reality of a rapidly increasing Chromebook market share, they will certainly improve their apps to work more efficiently on Chromebooks rather than just on Android phones or tablets.
And to be fair to most programmers, their applications don’t work well on Chrome OS not because they intentionally break the program, but because they haven’t been given the opportunity to optimize their apps for Chrome OS.
What about Work?
Now with all these minor problems aside, Microsoft word of all apps, works great on Chrome OS. One can easily create and edit documents offline and pull files from the various cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive, so it really is an established app inside the Chrome OS.
Many have been impressed by the clean user interface and the overall experience of Microsoft Office on Chromebook. On the flip side, that could mean trouble for Google Docs as people might start to shift towards Microsoft Word in the future.
Some applications give the option of turning on a phone layout and when that happens, it becomes much easier to use messaging apps like Google Hangouts and/or Facebook messenger. Not to mention the ubiquitous Whatsapp Messenger.
The applications, for the most part, keep quiet in the background and come to the front of the screen only when you need them. Chrome OS’s notification center works as smoothly as always and popup messages are displayed in a manner that they don’t miss the eye.
The same, however, can’t be said of the App launcher. It becomes cluttered and difficult to navigate through once you install the same app first from Chrome OS web apps and then from Android apps. You will also see some duplicates in the previously mentioned case.
Though, there is hope that Google will fix this once it officially announces Android apps for Chromebooks.
And now we come to the fun part. Video games.
Games work sufficiently well on Chromebooks but the presence of Android apps would not draw too many people to use Chromebooks for that purpose alone.
Besides, most of the games in Android apps are specifically designed for Android phones or tablets, such that they require touchscreens and would have difficult button mappings if launched from a Chromebook.
Luckily, the Chromebook Flip does turn into a tablet and it does kind of feel nice to have such a large selection of games available on a Chromebook, but more work needs to done in order to create games that feel and run on Chromebooks without much trouble.
Google is moving in the right direction by the introduction of Android on Chrome OS. Many people who would have been averse to the idea of a Chromebook in the past would definitely give a concentrated thought to actually go out and buy one because of the increased options Play Store will be able to provide them and to help them out in accomplishing their tasks.
The success of this project lies with the developers. If the developers are able to make better apps for Chrome OS and if they embrace the platform as they have supported Android phones then the future looks strong and stable.
With that said, there is no question that Google has hit quite a few snags in the past trying to come up with a robust and active Android app ecosystem, but one can always hope. And pray maybe.