Google Play Store on Chromebooks: What to Know

Back in May at Google’s annual IO developer event the company announced what could be the biggest news for Android and Chrome OS in years. After rumors in April, Google officially confirmed the Google Play Store and nearly 1.5 million Android apps are coming to Chromebooks everywhere. Here are all the details, and what you need to know.

In 2011 the first Chromebook running Google’s cloud-based Chrome OS was released, and they’ve been gaining steam ever since. In fact, recently we learned that Chromebooks have passed the Macbook and are now the #2 most sold computers of Q1 of 2016. To make things even better, users will soon be able to do a lot more on them.

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Read: 5 Reasons to Buy the new Chromebook Pixel

Google mentioned running Android apps on Chrome OS way back in 2014, but it never happened. Fast forward to now, and that dream is finally becoming a reality. Turning many powerful budget laptops into very capable machines that have a lot more to offer and access to over a million apps.

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The company built Chrome OS as a fast, simple and secure operating system for manufactures to create cheap laptops for millions of users to enjoy, and that’s exactly what’s happening. Most run off hardware found inside a smartphone, offer big 11, 13, or 15-inch displays at a low price point. Often times costing around $199 or $299.

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Then Google released the Chromebook Pixel, and a second model in 2015 for $999 that rivaled the highest end MacBook Pro from Apple. With an aluminum unibody frame, powerful processor, beautiful HD touchscreen and USB Type-C. Making it one of the best Chromebooks money could buy, but still limited in potential.

It’s official though, this summer the Google Play Store and all of it’s applications will be coming to the Chrome OS. Not just a select few apps, but any developers that make the necessary changes (if any) to get their apps to run on the Chrome OS.

Update: Chrome OS 53 started rolling out last night (June 16th) on the developer channel, which is an easy toggle for Chromebook owners. This is the version with support for the Google Play Store. The ASUS Chromebook Flip was first, and after the update owners will have the Google Play Store pre-installed and be able to download apps. It also arrived for the Chromebook Pixel and a few others.

Now, as of July 14th the update that enables the Google Play Store and Android apps is now live for the ASUS Fip, Chromebook Pixel (2015) and the Acer R11. The latter two received the update on the evening of July 12th. Try it today, and enjoy a better Chromebook experience.

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When Will Google Play Come to Chrome OS?

The biggest question we keep hearing and seeing about the Google Play Store on the Chrome OS and Chrome books is when will it be available? In June and July select devices got support, and more are coming in the near future.

Google promised that sometime around mid-June they’ll release an updated developer channel “M53” with support for the Google Play Store. Most developers won’t have to make any changes, or only a few simple tweaks, and their apps will be fully supported on a Chromebook. It’s finally here, but only on the three devices mentioned above.

Owners will be able to download and use the most popular Android apps on Chromebooks. Whether that be Microsoft Word apps, Google Docs, Clash of Clans for some casual gaming between essays and work tasks, Minecraft, Skype and more. Essentially any and all Android apps. Including Photoshop for Android, that works too.

Which Chromebooks Will Be Supported?

Giving all users on the Chrome OS access to the Google Play Store is a big task, and there are a lot of moving parts. At first select Chromebooks will get access, mainly ones with a touchscreen, since apps need to have users tapping the screen.

The first devices with Google Play Store support will be the ASUS Chromebook Flip, Acer Chromebook R11, and the newest Chromebook Pixel (2015). Then add it to other Chromebooks in the future, but we’ll have to wait a few more months for more details.

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The full list of Chromebooks with support for the Google Play Store can be found here. It’s a pretty huge list, with most new models being supported in the near future.

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Now that three devices have support things are moving along, and the general public release for all supported devices is on track for later this year.

Upcoming Devices

Google went on to state that the company has been working hard with 3rd party manufacturers, likely many big names like HP, Acer, Toshiba and more to build great Chromebooks with the Google Play Store in mind. This means that later this year, or during the summer months we can expect to see a lot more Chromebooks released with key features, upgrades, or additions to take full advantage of the Google Play Store.

How It Works?

We’re not 100% sure on how Google is doing this as of yet, but everything will run natively on the Chrome OS. Meaning we won’t be using Bluestacks, or some other method to stream the apps. Instead, the Google Play Store will be something users can download and update on their laptop, and then have full access to a wide array of Android apps.

Further in the announcement Google said, “The same apps that run on phones and tablets can now run on Chromebooks without compromising their speed, simplicity or security. This is good for users and great for developers – in addition to phones and tablets, they will be able to easily bring their apps to laptops.”

Apps will run, perform, and be updated exactly the same on a Chromebook as they do on a phone or tablet. It’s a completely separate stack that works perfectly with the Chrome OS. This is exciting news, and we’ll be on the lookout for more details. Initial developer and software support just started rolling out, and a wider release will happen in the near future. Does this bring an end to Android tablets? We’ll have to wait and see.