back to article Not appy with your Chromebook? Well now it can run Android apps

To help bridge the gap between its two mobile platforms, Google has released a beta version of a technology that allows Chrome OS users to run Android apps on their desktops. Google OS boss Sundar Pichai first previewed the tech in March, during one of the less buzzed-about segments of his I/O conference keynote. Dubbed the …

  1. ecofeco Silver badge

    Yet another layer?

    Am I the only one who is getting real tired of added complexity?

    An OS within an OS? Ever heard of the old saying "Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you should?"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yet another layer?

      Hmm, I don't think they're embedding the Android OS into ChromeOS - they're just letting you run the apps in it.

      I doubt most Android apps go low enough to actually use the Android OS - but since both systems are based on the same kernel, there shouldn't be much problem.

    2. Macka

      Re: Yet another layer?

      No you're not the only one. I have zero interest in running Android apps on my Chromebook. It's lightweight, fast and secure and I want it to stay that way. If I want Android apps I'll buy a suitable phone or tablet.

      1. Craigness

        Re: Yet another layer?


        You have to buy the phone anyway, as that's where the apps get installed. If the phone is near the chromebook then you can use the apps (via magic), but...and this is what regtards often have a really hard time don't have to. It's no less lightweight than yesterday.

    3. garden-snail

      Re: Yet another layer?

      Android apps run in a Java virtual machine, so I'm sure they don't need to emulate the entire Android OS. Rather, this is probably an implementation of Dalvik (or ART) for Chrome OS that provides the necessary APIs for Android apps to interact with Chrome OS I/O.

    4. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Yet another layer?

      It's completely backwards half arsed system, yet I get 6 thumbs down.


      1. Pookietoo

        Re: It's completely backwards half arsed system

        You may have missed how popular virtualization and cross-platform frameworks have become of late.

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: It's completely backwards half arsed system

          Ah yes, because something is popular means it must be good, right?

          I also didn't miss how popular the cloud has become as well. How's that working out?

          Both are some of the stupidest shit I've ever seen in years.

          VM - back to mainframe leashes

          Cloud - "my stuff is safe here, right?"

  2. TechnicalBen Silver badge

    Why was it not Android in the first place? Any takers?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why was it not Android in the first place?

      The same reason metro on the desktop shouldn't have happened (as early as it did, at least).

      The difference here is Google already have a successful platform, and this will let Chromebook users also access it - rather than nearly destroy a successful platform in an attempt to build a new one.

      I was on the fence with Chromebook. This might tip me over.

      1. frank ly Silver badge

        @Technical Ben

        I'm with you on this. My Asus Transformer is a fantastic little machine to use and does just about evrything I need. I used it as my main machine (by length of time) until I resurrected my old laptop with Linux. I found myself wishing that the Asus had a larger screen and keyboard.

  3. poopypants

    Why not just make a browser version?

    Then it should run just about anywhere.

    Here's one way:

  4. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Chromebook only?

    This sounds like it may be compiling these apps to NaCL? This sounds cool, but I thought NaCL was at least portable between Chrome running on different platforms. Apparently not?

  5. phil dude


    I believe the approach might be the same used by sailfish/jolla using hybris which intercepts EGL calls for android for Wayland.

    In any case , linux is android, and for a while the patches given by google have been working their way into the kernel - especially global locks and other android nasties.

    The thing is, this is the linux desktop future. Who cares how an application is written? Beside running under any desktop linux (ubuntu,debian,redhat,opensuse,mandrake, etc....) it is possible to lock android in its box using either chroot or probably KVM/XEN or even just libhybris...

    Exciting development and perhaps we will have our browsers running in a box soon....!


  6. GBE

    NaCl sounds a bit dodgy to me...

    "Dubbed the App Runtime for Chrome, it's a way of packaging Android apps so that they will launch and run on Chrome OS, via a special runtime implemented using the Chocolate Factory's Native Client (NaCl) in-browser binary execution tech."

    I'd take it with a grain of salt.

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Re: NaCl sounds a bit dodgy to me...

      I'm glad I'm not alone thinking tabletop seasoning every time I see that.

  7. Diogenes

    great for my use case

    Our TSO and I are in the process of converting our old DER laptops to chromiumbooks and they work really really really well - as windows machines they were woefully underspecc'd (if anybody knows a school who wants to dispose of theirs please let me know :-) )

    This should open up the plethora of android apps for kids developed for the National Curriculum to use.

  8. agricola

    Can you say, "Read between the lines...", boys and girls?

    No matter how much whipped cream with maraschino cherries Google piles on the Chromebook, it's STILL a useless turd.

    The one thing it is NOT is a computer.

    1. Craigness

      Re: Can you say, "Read between the lines...", boys and girls?

      You should try one. You'll love it.

    2. DanceMan

      Re: Can you say, "Read between the lines...", boys and girls?

      Horses for courses. They're not a full computer in the sense you're implying, but for many people they're all they'll need, and easier to use and maintain. I got one to use only for internet; I have many other computers for the other needs.

      1. agricola

        Re: Can you say, "Read between the lines...", boys and girls?

        "They're not a full computer in the sense you're implying, but for many people they're all they'll need, and easier to use and maintain. I got one to use only for internet; I have many other computers for the other needs..

        Not a full computer? You mean not being able to print (easily, at all), no serial port, not being able to upgrede hardware, not being able to store and run YOUR software makes them not a full computer, right.

        You've made my point for me.

        All a Chromebook is, is a TERMINAL for GOOGLE. It's nmot even a terminal you can connect to all your "...many other computers...".

        And if you've got "...many other computers...", why'd you throw your money away on a device which makes your other computers look like supercomputers?

        Thanks for making my point for me.

        1. Craigness

          Re: Can you say, "Read between the lines...", boys and girls?

          A Chromebook is not a terminal for Google. You can go to any website you want on one, and you never have to visit Google. You can even remove google from the list of search engines, if Bing or something takes your fancy. You don't need a google account to log in, or even to use the chrome store (which means you can get password and bookmark sync software and not use google's built-in offerings). It's a cheap, very fast way of getting to the internet, which is what most home computers are used for most of the time (but most computers are much slower).

          There is no need for hostility because you don't need to buy one. The people who have bought one know Chromebooks are excellent computers, so you'll not convince us. If you do convince anyone to use an expensive, slow alternative, they deserve Windows.

          In case you didn't know, it's OK to own 2 computers. Just thought I'd mention that as your rants suggests you might be unaware. My 2 computers combined cost less than what I'd have to pay for a Windows laptop that could perform on par with my Chromebook, and I'm very happy with my current setup: a cheap one for carrying round the house, suspending and restarting many times a day without worrying about it freezing, and another cheap one in the study which I can use for...well, not much to be honest, because the Chromebook is an excellent computer which can do almost everything I need.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. ricegf

          Re: Can you say, "Read between the lines...", boys and girls?

          "...not being able to print..."

          Odd. Mine prints just fine.

          " serial port..."

          Odd. When I connect USB devices into those ports with USB logos over them - mouse, file system device, etc. - they seem to work just fine.

          "...not being able to store and run YOUR software..."

          Odd. MY software (which I write in Python ftw) seems to run just fine.

          Methinks you've never actually used a Chromebook at all. Right?

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can you say, "Read between the lines...", boys and girls?

      "The one thing it is NOT is a computer"

      "An electronic device which is capable of receiving information (data) in a particular form and of performing a sequence of operations in accordance with a predetermined but variable set of procedural instructions (program) to produce a result in the form of information or signals."

      Source: Oxford Dictionaries

      So you are VERY wrong on that point.

  9. DerekCurrie Bronze badge

    Does this mean Chromebooks can run Android malware as well?

    What OS is currently the biggest malware magnet available for computing devices?


    Well done Google. :-P

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does this mean Chromebooks can run Android malware as well?

      That's mobile devices, not devices in general. Not surprising really, since Android is by far the most popular OS and user's have the option of getting software that hasn't had the vendor's blessing.

      Overall, Android get just 2-3% of infections.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: user's have the option of getting software that hasn't had the vendor's blessing

        Say that about windows and watch the upvotes.

      2. Anonymoist Cowyard

        Re: Does this mean Chromebooks can run Android malware as well?

        Of course not. Anyone with even half a brain know that Android malware only exists outside Google's realm, in the "untrusted zones", and Android-clone, non Google world.

        Basic in the western world, where your Android phone came from your phone shop, and yo haven't rooted it or switched off all the layers of protection, then your exposure to malware is no different to any other MobileOS, and FAR more secure than Windows...

        So no, because Chrome store is now a curated garden, and people can't just upload Android apps there, things are still very secure.

        1. Craigness

          Re: Does this mean Chromebooks can run Android malware as well?

          The Chrome Store is not curated. Devs have to alert google if they use techniques to inject ads, and there are algos to detect malware, but it's not curated in the same way the apple and firefox stores are.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Android on windows anyone?

    Never used it though.

    That is all...

    1. Unicornpiss Silver badge

      Re: Android on windows anyone?

      Bluestacks. Agreed. I have used it, and it works well. What I don't like about it is that it seems to be partially adware and runs components of itself at bootup, not just when using an Android app. However, since it has been possible to use Bluestacks on Windows for a long time, I don't see why it was so tricky to port Android apps to what is already Linux, essentially.

      Re. why didn't Chromebook run Android in the first place, that's a good question. My old Motorola phone was meant to be used with the "Atrix" dock that never took off. But you could plug a HDMI cable into it and use it with a TV or monitor, and the results were very good. It automatically would switch to mouse mode if you chose the "Webtop" option, which was one of 3 given. The other two being "clone display" or more of a movie/photo friendly mode. Throw in a BT keyboard and you really didn't even need a laptop, although the performance could have been a bit better. If the price of the Atrix dock hadn't pushed the overall cost into the land of netbooks, it might have done very well.

      1. Craigness

        Re: Android on windows anyone?

        I had an Asus Transformer and prefer my Chromebook. Android is not a desktop OS, and any app which has web and 'mobile' versions is better on the web when you're using a laptop. Unfortunately Chrome on android is not designed for desktop use and web apps tend to serve mobile versions to it. So for laptop use, I'd choose Chrome OS. Multi-screen deployments don't have to be unified by OS these days, they are unified by the cloud and (sometimes, but becoming more so) the design language.

  11. Phoenix50

    What's this? Google shoe horning mobile apps on to it's desktop operating system?

    Oh yes, of course that's ok. Microsoft did it the wrong way round but Google should be applauded.

    Business as usual then for the freetards.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I agree. Google has a mobile app platform that people actually want, there is demand to run Android apps on any device.

      Microsoft shoe horned their desktop OS into a mobile one in a (lame) attempt to create a demand for their mobile platform.

    2. Craigness

      Google's version is a lot more Windows 8.1 than Windows 8. Apps run in floating windows, like...normal programs.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    android apps pn linux ?

    There are a few android apps that I wouldnt mind being able to run on my Linux box

    (nor for that matter would I mind being able to play plants vs zombies :) .. )

    so if this NaCl stuff will work on chromium books, chances are it will make oit's way into regular linux boxes as well ..

    than all we need is a port of the google play store for Linux, and bing(o)

    1. Steve Graham

      Re: android apps on linux ?

      I've played around with Android x86 as a virtual machine on Linux. Everything seemed to work correctly -- mouse, keyboard, network, video & sound.

      I've also booted the same generic x86 live CD on a netbook, but that was not fully functional. However, the same site has builds for some specific machines.

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