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Google's Play Store coming to Chrome OS soon

By Bryan Chan & Koh Wanzi - on 20 May 2016, 3:20pm

Google's Play Store coming to Chrome OS soon

The Google Play Store will soon be available on Chrome OS. <br> Image source: Chrome Blog

Google has announced that its Play Store is finally coming to Chrome OS. Chromebook users have long been clamoring for proper native apps, and they will now be able to use Android apps inside of their Chrome OS-powered devices for the first time.

As it turns out, Android apps may just be what Chromebooks need. While these affordable notebooks were always about making computing accessible for everyone, Google says the continued growth of the Chromebook market and requests for more features mean that the company has needed to find ways to add more functionality.

Furthermore, access to the rich repository of Play Store apps would make Chromebooks a lot more attractive to users seeking an affordable notebook. Chrome OS could previously only be used to access the web and web apps, so these new native Android apps could deliver a more comprehensive computing experience with apps like Microsoft Word and Photoshop Mix. In addition, with more powerful devices like the HP Chromebook 13 and Acer Chromebook 14 for Work popping up, Chromebooks appear poised to take advantage of the additional functions and capabilities offered by Android apps.

The HP Chromebook 13 is a shining example of what Chromebooks can be. (Image Source: HP)

Nevertheless, Google says that these Android apps will run smoothly even on low-end Chromebooks, because they have been designed to work with a wide variety of Android devices, some of which have very limited processor and memory resources.

In fact, an early release of the entire system reportedly showed that Android apps displayed fairly impressive and intelligent integration into Chrome OS. For one, apps show up as completely independent windows that can be resized, and their notifications are integrated alongside Chrome OS’s own notifications. What’s more, even features like Facebook Messenger’s floating chat heads showed up as expected.

Do note that this amounts to fully native support for the Play Store on Chrome OS, and Android isn’t being run in emulation or as a virtual machine. After logging in with your Google account, all your Android apps across your phone or tablet will be synced to your Chromebook. Chrome apps and Android apps will also appear side by side when you perform a search in Chrome OS.

Play Store for Chrome OS will be available to developers in early June, and is slated to enter beta testing a month or two later. If all goes as planned, Google expects it to be ready for all users this fall. This opens up a lot of new use cases for developers to take advantage of. For instance, they could create desktop-class native apps on Chrome OS to take advantage of the larger screens and additional processing power of certain Chromebooks.

Source: Chrome Blog via The Verge