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May 20, 2016

Google follows Windows 10 lead, brings Android apps to Chromebook with Play Store

News: Chromebook users will now be able to download Android apps.

By Alexander Sword

Google announced that Chromebooks would be able to download apps from the Play Store, bringing the low-cost laptops into the Android ecosystem.

Chromebook users will now be able to download Android apps such as Skype or Office, meaning that developers and companies can now easily build apps that are usable across smartphones, tablets and laptops.

The initial roll-out will include the ASUS Chromebook Flip, the Acer Chromebook R11 and the Chromebook Pixel. The Chrome team said that this would roll out to other Chromebooks and that they were working on devices designed specifically to work with Android apps.

"Chromebooks have always been about making computing more accessible for everyone, and by bringing together the best of Android and Chrome OS, we are taking a big leap forward," wrote Dylan Reid and Elijah Taylor, Chrome OS Software Engineers, in the blog announcement.

"Not only are we addressing many of the existing needs and use cases that people have for their Chromebooks, we are also betting on the millions of developers who are innovating every day to build the next great experience that wasn’t even possible on PC platforms before."

First announced at the Google I/O conference in May 2011, Chromebooks run on Chrome OS, with most data and applications hosted online in the cloud.

They are notable for being considerably cheaper than a standard laptop, with HP, Acer and Asus models currently priced between £150 and £200 on Amazon. The devices are particularly popular in schools.

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Since most of the storage on Chromebooks is hosted in the cloud, a concern around hosting Android apps would be the limited memory of the devices.

The move by Google to combine the Chrome OS and Android ecosystems reflects a broader shift towards multi-platform apps and ways of working.

For example, through the Windows 10 operating system, Microsoft aims to allow users to switch seamlessly between different devices.

This is the first OS to render for all devices from the same kernel, meaning that the same applications can run across all the different major platforms, including desktop, tablet, mobile and emerging technologies such as augmented reality.

Alongside the Chrome announcement, Google’s I/O developer conference featured announcements such as the latest update to the operating system with Android N, updates for Android Wear and a new messaging app called Allo.

Key to these developments is the new Google Assistant, which is intended to be a more intelligent, conversational voice assistant for smartphones.

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