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Play Store and Android Apps Coming to Chromebooks (googleblog.com)
380 points by ojn on May 19, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 202 comments



from the post:

> Schools in the US are now buying more Chromebooks than all other devices combined -- and in Q1 of this year, Chromebooks topped Macs in overall shipments to become the #2 most popular PC operating system in the US*.

that's pretty amazing actually. congrats to google & the chromebook team!


Congrats on the adoption, although I still don't think it's moving our public institutions in the right direction. It's really just moving a lot more kids into a walled garden. I know Google has been in hot water for collecting student data recently and has since taken steps to fix it. That's their primary business model though. "Anonymizing" promises always follow and then it's a trust game again.

I can see a future where a mandatory Google account follows you up the grades. Educational software is released exclusively in Google's Play store. Assignments and homework are handed in with Google Drive and Google Docs.

Sure this is great for Google, but I think our public institutions suffer from such a third-party centrality. I remember at UW-Madison, it was annoying having to pay for a semester long subscription to whatever the professor decided was a good cms for the class, but at least the costs were explicit and there wasn't a monopoly player in the field that everyone had to use. IMHO, Google is more interested in getting people into the garden than it is in selling hardware or fostering education.


"I can see a future where a mandatory Google account follows you up the grades. Educational software is released exclusively in Google's Play store. Assignments and homework are handed in with Google Drive and Google Docs."

This is not the future. This is now. At the school district where I volunteer as a computer instructor, all the first graders already have a Google account that will follow them throughout their grades. In fact their user names include the year they are expected to graduate. They are teaching first graders how to use Google docs. Editing a Google doc is their first big lesson. I see them as walled in, but from their perspective the Google ecosystem is all there is to the internet.


Same thing here, only they are using Microsoft's cloud stuff for MS Office. These cloud suites are just too convenient not to use, and as long as there is no open and free alternative, it seems schools are stuck choosing between one of the oligopolists.


They took a page from Microsoft's playbook. They know that you have to capture the next generation in schools.

I agree with your worries. But it also tells that other parties in the market have utterly failed to compete. iPads used to get traction, but are more expensive, and Apple doesn't provide a complete ecosystem like Google Apps for Education. Microsoft has been sleeping, they have all the pieces but wanted to push Windows as-is. The open source solutions require you to hire some sysadmins, while Google Apps did exactly the opposite: it cut out some personnel that used to maintain the infrastructure.


> The open source solutions require you to hire some sysadmins

That is rarely an issue, though – even my German (combined middle and high) school had a dedicated sysadmin and two teachers teaching computer science who had a PhD in compsci.

Developing custom systems, running them, etc comes a lot cheaper longterm than going into vendor lock-in (especially with privacy laws, where even looking at Google can cost you millions)


I think it's fair to say that nothing will be as convenient as a single centralized body controlling all the data management, client software/hardware and services under one roof. Nothing, not ever. So its not really an incompetent market so much as an incompetent or lethargic school system willing to make deep present and future concessions for a one click solution. The complete package is the problem, not the solution. You can't provide a modular and open ecosystem of small, single-concern pieces of software and hardware that rivals the single-provider model. When a single-provider model becomes entrenched, it's near impossible for those modular offerings to take root as they won't interop with the defacto Google, by design. Our education system now has a MAINFRAME.

For all the mud Microsoft gets, their ecosystem was pretty modular because that was their business model. They're locking it down and becoming more cloudy every day, but for a long while, Microsoft didn't care what you ran, didn't explicitly track your usage and worked with a wide variety of disparate multi-vendor software. I'm not saying Windows is where we should have been nor that it wasn't a lock-in of a sort, but we're not really better off now. Apple iPads were less open than Windows, but had consistent hardware. Now Google has achieved the complete solution.

I think a large part of it is the framework v. libraries argument all over again in a different package. I think we're on the swing back now where we want to trust providers a lot more than after the corporate IBM fallout. With everyone getting their music from Spotify, movies from Netflix, games from Steam, analytics from GA, chat from Slack, books from Kindle, etc. Schools are asking, why not us too? For a lot of people, schools aren't something you can just decide not to sign the EULA and walk away from though.

These chromebooks are just cheap thin clients for Google services. They're some of the most locked down devices on the market, but thanks to the internet being decentralized by nature and Google seeming like the door to the internet, their centralization doesn't seem so scary. They interop with little else and hold no data, even printing hits their servers first before your school's printer.

Here's to hoping for a swing-back.


> Google is more interested in getting people into the garden than it is in selling hardware or fostering education

All for-profit companies are interested in turning a profit. No company would be interested in fostering education, no matter what they say. The question is whether their profit motives are harmful to the education.

The larger point here is about the dangers of the cloud. Google could chose not to allow you access to your own data. It can hand it over to the government. A hacker can break into your data and impersonate you remotely, even if you went off the grid. If they become a monopoly, they can jack up their prices and you would have no recourse. They could offer you crappy service and you will have to swallow it.


I agree with you. Their cloud is really the danger in this relationship. Educators should use products and services whose business model doesn't hamper their ability to remain in control of their students' education. I didn't mean to come off as saying Google isn't sincere and another company with similar offerings would be. It's business.

I think it will get beyond individual school/department lock-in though. Steam, for example, hasn't simply locked-in consumers to their purchases and made it difficult to transition away. Developers are often locked in because they rely on Steam for match-making, piracy-busting, cloud saving, achievements apis, server-hosting, modding support, etc. etc. All of this offloaded centralization is easier than doing it yourself and more like the console's devs are used to. If you want a AAA PC game, you're more than likely going to get it exclusively on Steam.

Android is already there, many/most of the apps require Google's services for even mainline functionality and definitely for consumer discovery. Google education could be next if it gets adopted like Google Analytics as the de-facto api, educators would have no choice in the matter. All good products use Google's apis for everything.


I'm limited to only my experience in the U.S. public school system (and two universities, one private, one public) but education itself seems to be a walled garden. Curricula are set by policy, not by the instructor. Textbooks are pre-determined, and largely non-negotiable. Many classes mandate all sorts of closed software, sometimes begrudgingly allowing Octave in place of Matlab, for example. Many CS courses mandate a particular language, proprietary or not. And it's nothing new; when I was growing up, it was Apple ][ machines in every classroom. Even in my master's program, the layout templates for the thesis were provided assuming I was using Word. I had to parse them and mirror them into LaTeX so I could use the tools of my choice.

I understand and agree with your concerns, but choice has never been a staple of the education system I've encountered. Perhaps it is different elsewhere.


I hate to be the contrarian one in a thread full of Google fans, but I'd consider this trend of schools flocking to locked-down and largely cloud-dependent computing devices to be pretty freaking scary. Start them young, get them accustomed to and comfortable with the idea of some huge company having great knowledge of and control over their online lives... it's a great business plan, but one that I would certainly object to my kids participating in.


I understand this concern. I've helped deploy chromebooks and linux based laptops and pcs at my daughters school. I am pro open source and would love to see lots of digging into understanding the systems. However I am also in favor of chromebooks. Here's why:

The alternative to chromebooks isn't a glorious world of non-locked down non-cloud dependent machines. It's a world of poorly managed, crappy windows boxes. A world where students pass around USB keys. A world that is at least as locked down as a chromebook but much less secure and in many ways less flexible.

Chromebooks, as locked down and hermetically sealed as they are as an ecosystem, are great for one simple reason: they free up time and resources. I'd rather see a fleet of chromebooks that are dead simple to manage and deploy and then take all that extra time and money and spend it on equipment a linux or osx or whatever based lab full of machines students can hack on and learn to code on and hook up to actuators or whatever they want to do.

90% of computer management in a school is dealing with day to day "can't print / how to load a document / etc". I've seen this completely evaporate at my daughter's school after rolling out chromebooks. It's amazing.

So bring on chromebooks as locked down, easy to manage dedicated "get homework done" devices and free up time and money (because man are they cheap) to teach programming and hardware and everything else in a real computer lab.


I also want to point out that Chromebooks can easily be turned into Linux machines with Crouton. They are not locked down in that sense.


It's not really easy depending on who you ask and running Crouton isn't really making it a linux box in this way as you're just running on top of ChromeOS with most of the hardware integration still handled by ChromeOS.

No school would endorse this because I'm sure crouton isn't in their support package. Doing it 'right' often implies opening the case, voiding your warranty, removing the write-protect screw, flashing away ChromeOS with a third party build of SeaBios, installing an unsupported Linux OS on the hardware and praying drivers exist in the mainline kernel for your device, then making due without any of the ChromeOS cloud-goodies your device was given from Google. Not really SOP for organizations buying in bulk with warranties.

I do it because I like small, cheap computers running Linux well and thankfully ChromeOS is Linux-y, but for most people, this is still very locked down. Even being able to unlock ChromeOS devices is probably more a side-effect than a willful desire from Google to be open.


> poorly managed, crappy windows boxes

> at least as locked down as a chromebook but much less secure

I fucking loathe windows, but Lucy, you've some 'splainin to do. How is a Windows PC "at least as locked down" as a Chromebook?

Remember that "locked down" in the case of a chromebook doesn't mean "the administrator has decided what apps you can run and who can use it", it means "the fundamental design of the operating system means it can only ever run browser based apps, and it's inherently reliant on Google's infrastructure to work".

If Microsoft shut up shop tomorrow, the billions of Windows PCs in the world would have a security issue, sure, but they wouldn't stop fucking working.

> So bring on chromebooks as locked down, easy to manage dedicated "into to being a google user" devices

Fixed that for you.


I don't know what's inherently so bad about "being a google user". It's mostly paranoia. If the only hypothetical disadvantage you're thinking about it is "Google might shut down one day", then you're not thinking about a very near future. If the TV channels shut down tomorrow, your TVs effectively stop working too, you still buy them. There are hundreds of such devices out there, which you buy because it's pretty evident the company is not shutting down tomorrow. On the other hand, even if Google shuts down, a lot of things on your Chromebook will keep on working offline, especially with the advent of Android apps now.


> I don't know what's inherently so bad about "being a google user".

Having every facet of your digital life mined for personal data, for the sake of a mega-corp's bottom line?

> If the only hypothetical disadvantage you're thinking about it is "Google might shut down one day"

Not at all. Its actually more likely "Google might stop supporting X, Y or Z that you depend on".. They, you know, have a history of doing that.

However, let's play along anyway.

> If the TV channels shut down tomorrow, your TVs effectively stop working too, you still buy them.

No. Just. No. I literally don't remember the last time I watched broadcast television (hotels excepted), even when I lived in a country where I could understand what was being said on the broadcast channels. In our last house 1 of 2 TV's was connected to a satellite receiver for when my father in law was in the house. We moved 3-4 months ago. No satellite dish hooked up yet. No terrestrial aerial.

> There are hundreds of such devices out there, which you buy because it's pretty evident the company is not shutting down tomorrow.

I do? Would you care to enlighten me about these devices I apparently buy?

> On the other hand, even if Google shuts down, a lot of things on your Chromebook will keep on working offline

Are you kidding me? In offline-mode, you can't even edit your calendar on a Chromebook.

You're also not thinking about things like e.g. users on the system. It's inherently dependent on Google - you can't just add a local account like you can with a regular computer, you have to be online, with the person sitting there next to you, so they can sign in with their own google account.

> especially with the advent of Android apps now

Right, because apps designed to work on a mobile phone, which generally has it's own data connection independent of whether wifi is available or not, will just naturally assume they need to work offline. Good luck with that.


All the places where you have taken "you" literally as yourself, I didn't mean that. I meant people in general.

And I wrote "a lot", not "all" the things will keep on working Chromebook (in an hypothetical situation Google shuts down).

> Right, because apps designed to work on a mobile phone, which generally has it's own data connection independent of whether wifi is available or not, will just naturally assume they need to work offline. Good luck with that.

Yes, the same mobile phones which also have an airplane mode.


The only problem with "data mining" is the government, not corporations. The corporations use that data to only do one single thing: give you personalised ads.

However the government could pass new laws and prosecute you for things you have done 20 years ago on the internet.


That's a particular viewpoint that isn't shared by, for example, Europe, where my data is mine, and a corporation gets to use it with my permission. They need to tell me that they gather it, and why they gather it, and what they do with it, and they have to only keep it for as long as necessary.

There are protections for me if a corporation sells my data without my permission or misuses my data.


Is there something stopping these corporations to do anything else with the data? I can imagine recruiters willing to pay on some educational information/analysis. I can also imagine corporations selling credit rating information based on the data on the individuals they have. And these were after thinking about 25 seconds of possible valuable use cases on data.


Have you missed out on the past few years of news?

Facebook has admitted to having manipulated which articles showed up in your news stream, and in which order, to test if they could manipulate the mood of their users.

There was even a discussion about it on here.


You draw a clean divide but be wary of things like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crony_capitalism


> Its actually more likely "Google might stop supporting X, Y or Z that you depend on".. They, you know, have a history of doing that.

For example, Google Reader.


There are some particularly concerning scenarios:

1. Google collects and stores information about my children, and it is released (by accident or otherwise)

2. Google profits off my childrens' education, has financial incentives not aligned with those of my family

but mostly I just think it's really fucking creepy for an advertising broker to be building up a profile of a first grade child, and I think maybe schools shouldn't become reliant on an ad company to help deliver education.

To assuage my concerns, Chromebooks should be usable without creating a Google ID. Or maybe the whole school should have a single ID used by all students.


A world where students pass around USB keys.

That's a good thing, if your alternative is "upload files to a third-party server that might not even be in the same state and download them onto a machine sitting a few feet away. I don't believe the "security" argument either; for a long time schools have configured machines with software such that they don't persist changes across reboots, and that easily gets rid of any infection or unwanted changes.

free up time and money (because man are they cheap) to teach programming

That just widens the gap between users and programmers, and leads to the odd phenomenon of people coming out of "learn to code" classes knowing how to open an IDE and write and run code, but are otherwise still mostly computer-illiterate because they skipped the "implicit education" of dealing with the issues arising from normal computer usage. The problem is that the demographic between "normal user" and "coder", the "power users", has disappeared.

in a real computer lab.

Students should be using a "real computer" for everything they do, not just in special classes, as otherwise it leads to a situation where they perceive programming as something special for "approved" circumstances, and not merely a skill a "power user" can use to improve their productivity. It's somewhat reminiscent of http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.en.html


Apple was basically in the same position and they lost it to google.

Someday there will be something better and people will switch.


Chromebooks aren't better - they are just cheap and familiar looking. Google has done nobody a service except themselves.


It's not just about Chromebooks, it's the Chromebook in combination with Google Apps for Education which provides Google Mail, Hangouts, Google Docs, and an electronic course environment:

https://www.google.com/edu/products/productivity-tools/class...


They're cheaper and still good enough. They're popular because that combination is closer to what is desired by the market.


I would say they are better at fulfilling this particular role. A Chromebook meets and exceeds requirements for a computer for many, and with the benefit of low maintenance (it just works), so why would they need what Apple offers.


To be fair most of these schools probably already have iPads anyway. My mom's school gave out iPads and MacBooks to teachers and classrooms like crazy.


Anecdotal, but when our app got featured on the Chrome Web Store, we saw "clusters" of people coming from single IPs and running Chrome OS, which we would later find out to be US high-schools; for us that was pretty interesting, the realization that a lot of students in the US actively run Chrome OS, we certainly didn't plan for it.


Pretty heartening too...for awhile, I was worried that computerized education would be limited to tablets.


Tablets aren't really a problem when it comes to education. It's only a shift in how we do computing vs what we do it in.

They've built tablets. We (developers) need to build the software that does more than consume our time, but allow us to create the content for others. Sadly, it's not there yet, but in time it will be. I don't doubt the computing capacity is there for a company to create a 3D modeling program for a tablet that's either touch driven, or a combo that includes a mouse and/or keyboard. There are already suites out there for image manipulation, music and video creation etc.

If I could purchase a tablet and then a full (3D) CAD or other modeling software for it, I'd drop the money in a heartbeat.


I don't really do much CAD but have lots of friends who do. Wouldn't you end up needing a keyboard and a mouse to be productive CADing on the tablet? Which would defeat the form factor of the tablet. There does seem to be a market for CADing on tablets as seen in Onshape. But I have never seen any of my friends use it (Mechanical engineering students and industry tends to favor SOLIDWORKS and sometimes CREO)


If the design of the CAD software were designed around the usage of a touch screen, and I don't think one would have to be constrained to require its use. I'm not saying they'd have to use the on-screen keyboard but build the interface to work well with a touch screen using what's already established in most programs (pinch, twist, tap and drag an item off a pallet or adjust its size etc).


I've spent a bit of time working on an imaging application (not CAD but building plans) and whenever desktops vs tablets comes up everybody eventually realizes just how huge their fingers are and the meeting moves on to another topic.


I thought the iPad had pens like the Surface?


Right, its much better if computerised education is limited to browser based applications.


You realize the article is about Android apps coming to Chrome OS, right ?


You realise that every single school/education department that chose to use Chromebooks did so knowing that they would not run anything but web apps, right?

Additionally, this announcement of a future release lists very specific models of Chromebooks that will support Android apps. Honestly, Android (and Google's management of the situation) has a fucking terrible track record when it comes to support and updates for devices.

Lastly - if you think that apps designed to run on a smartphone and later frankenstein'd onto a low cost laptop form-factor with a browser-as-the-os tagline, I think you should prepare to be surprised.


Interesting. Does that mean they have relaxed their t&c on how old you have to be to get a google account? I seem to remember a few years back google deleted an email account that some parents had set up for their child to email their grandparents.


Since iPads oursell macs by a significant margin this is just a typical distorted comparison by IDC.


I'm curious just on the technical side, what does this mean for the many apps that include ARM code? (i.e. apps that use the NDK) Will there be some emulation, or do apps generally ship with multi architecture?

Edit: Ok, the answer is, both. Thanks ;)


1.) Majority of the apps with NDK code will ship x86 binaries as well. It's very rarely a problem.

2.) For those that don't, libhoudini does an ok job even on slower phones. On faster chromebooks that shouldn't be an issue at all.


This does, however mean that

1. This depends on closed-source code (libhoudini is Intel code, and it's not open, last I heard). I guess it's not the first piece of closed-source code in Chromebooks, but it's a crucial piece.

2. This code is still not portable, it just runs on 2 archs, unless someone writes a libhoudini for all other archs as well.


What "other archs"? Android only supports 3 ARM architectures (all of them will load armeabi binaries), x86 and MIPS (with 0 MIPS devices or phones being on the market).

Chromebooks run only ARM or x86.

Again, this is an issue that's relevant to a tiny minority of the applications since vast majority do not ship native binaries.


Even if no official Android devices use MIPS today, that could change tomorrow. And there are lots of Android forks, I would be very surprised if none of them use MIPS.


I don't think it's a major blocker, qemu already let's you emulate any arch that you need. Replacing libhoudini with a qemu based version would likely be straightforward.


"In reality, we expect about one quarter of the apps to not have Intel [x86] binaries," Hornung told Ars

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/05/the-play-store-comes-...

Hopefully that means we'll see a lot more ARM-based Chromebooks as well going forward. No need for an Intel monopoly in the architecture agnostic Chrome OS world, so I hope Google and its partners will stop encouraging that monopoly going forward.

Cortex A72/Snapdragon 820 have Core M-level performance. If Core M is good enough for a $400 Chromebook, then those are also good for a $300 touch-enabled Chromebook.


I'm not an expert in this field, but I did want to say that I had an Asus Zenfone 2 (x86 phone) for a brief time, and app compatibility was never an issue. I ran into 0 apps that I couldn't run.


I had the Zenfone 2 as well, and the notable exception to that was Snapchat. About six months ago, they stopped making x86 versions of the app, and video was pretty pitiful.


Have you had a chance to compare that to the performance of their non-x86 app? I'm curious because I've found SnapChat to perform exceptionally poorly on every Android device I've tried.


Yes. No issue with the Nexus 5. Recording video with the Zenfone 2 was pretty poor -- totally choppy.


Most apps ship with multiple binaries for the appropriate architecture. For those apps that don't have the necessary binaries the native code will be translated on the fly to the host architecture instruction set. Since Chromebook's are significantly faster than smartphones the small performance hit shouldn't be noticeable.


There are also many Arm Chromebooks.


Are there?


They are pretty well split.

Many x86 Chromebooks offer several tiers that obfuscate the data, but in terms of product line releases, they're about 50/50.

Both Samsung Chromebooks, ASUS Chromebook Flip, HP Chromebook 14 G3, Haier and Hisense's both as well, for example, are ARM devices.


Ah, the list of x-86 Chromebooks easily out number the ARM ones available.


Source? On Android and under ARC you're SOL if an NDK app doesn't provide binaries for your architecture. This is rarely an issue though, as most apps just opt to ship with binaries compiled for every supported ABI.

https://developer.android.com/ndk/guides/abis.html


That's not really true - x86 devices mostly come with libhoudini layer which can load and translate ARMv7 binaries on the fly. Hence if the app ships armeabi code you're pretty much set.


ARC is dead. The Android Framework in ChromeOS is now a container.


"For those apps that don't have the necessary binaries the native code will be translated on the fly to the host architecture instruction set"

How would this happen?


Via an ARM/Android emulator? There's already one in the android development suite.


Thanks god no :) That would be really slow and painful. It is a translation layer, not an emulator.


binary translation.


I'm curious why they didn't mention something so game changing as this in the keynote.


Chromebooks in general don't seem to get that much attention. I'm not sure why, maybe they're not as ground-breaking as... another messaging app... that isn't even out yet...


Everyone wants to be the only walled garden... https://xkcd.com/927/


Managing expectations, I think. Google tends to release early and with sometimes experimental products where the quality/UX is not super great. I expect this will have some rather rough edges.


That doesn't stop them from announcing all sorts of things that have rough edges. Some of them keep their rough edges for years.


What game is this changing, really?


Touchscreen support. For example, I use Zinio to read magazines. The webapp can't zoom, doesn't handle portrait mode well, and is pretty bad with touch. Actually it's pretty broken in general. But the Android app runs great on my Chromebook and has a good fullscreen touch UI.

Similar with something like Google Play Books. The Android app has a good fullscreen touch UI and has a notes feature that the webapp doesn't.


Having offline apps is game changing because not everyone has access to the Internet all day long, and doing tasks like image and video editing on your laptop will be much easier and faster than using web services.


So, like having a Mac or Windows laptop, but restricted to either webapps or walled garden.

This is not game changer. It is exciting and might help grow the Android ecosystem. I just hope Google learned from the Honeycomb fiasco.


You can side-load Android Apps on Android.

I'd be pretty surprised if you won't be able to side-load Android apps on ChromeOS.


You can already side-load Android apps on ChromeOS, as well as with Chrome on other platforms. All you need is the ArcWelder chrome extension, which I'm pretty sure is provided by google themselves, to package up an apk into a chrome app: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/arc-welder/emfinbm...


But chromebooks already have lots of offline apps? They have been available for the majority of the Chromebooks' lifespan at this point.


Sorry, not trying to be argumentative but this doesn't change the game.

It's cool, but not game changing.


If it's get too affordable with a low-end hardware, most users will still opt for LAN cafe which is popular in China and some countries and is cheapest option for gaming and surfing Internet.

The cheapest notebook is about US$200.


It's a pretty huge deal, at least in my eyes. Chromebooks have this enormous following because of the price. Now, every app in the Play Store is installable to this huge group of laptop users. That means when a company wants their app to be on Android, they consent to it being on laptops as well. This means Microsoft Office and Apple Music are on ChromeOS laptops. It's a very effective strategy to vastly increase the viability of Chromebooks for regular users using other companies' apps. I never expected to see Apple developing apps for a Google-controlled laptop OS, but here we are.


Perhaps not game changing, but it is interesting to look at the overall 'universal' app trend between Apple, Microsoft and Google.

Microsoft's UWP platform - for Microsoft it's about bringing users from their strong desktop market to Windows Phone.

Google - Android apps on Chrome OS. Google seem to be doing the opposite of Microsoft and making a play for the desktop market.

Apple and the iOS-ification of OS X - Similar to Google, Apple seem to be preparing to pull in their phone market stronghold onto the desktop.

Seems like Microsoft and Google are directly competing here, and Apple is competing with themselves.


>Apple and the iOS-ification of OS X - Similar to Google, Apple seem to be preparing to pull in their phone market stronghold onto the desktop.

Is this what the relatively recent bitcode stuff with iOS apps is for?


Literally? Hearthstone. You can now play Hearthstone on a Chromebook.


Anyone know what would happen if one were to install BOTH the Android AND Chrome OS version of an app (e.g. Gmail)?


probably nothing, you'll have two different Gmail apps


I see -- kinda like having OpenOffice and Microsoft Office on the same PC I guess -- either one can open a .doc document.


Best bet, they're kept separately. Different runtimes (one JRE, one browser environment).


Well, ART not JRE.


urm, there is a gmail app on chromeos?

it just links to gmail.com if i use the gmail shortcut on my tray and i couldnt find another app on the store.


I was under the impression they had built an offline version of Gmail for Chrome OS. I suppose not.


They run out of time apparently.



I thought this was a big rumor for a few days that ended up getting extinguished by a Google exec.


Yeah. But then they build devices like the Pixel C, which were clearly supposed to be Chrombooks[1] and they have both groups reporting to the same managers.

So.. read the actions.

[1] http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2015/12/the-pixel-cs-bumpy-ro...


The Pixel C is a tablet with an optional keyboard available, so if it was (as it clearly seems) planned to be a ChromeOS device, it was a third form factor from the existing Chromebooks and Chromeboxes.

But making a decision not to expand ChromeOS devices to include "Chromeslates" is not the same thing as killing Chromebooks.


Did you even read the article?


This is a big move and will majorly impact desktop / laptop computing. Now the entire ecosystem of Android apps (even Microsoft Office, Snapchat, Photoshop Express) is going to be available, and arguably this platform is much more complete than say, Universal Apps (Microsoft)


Ironically, this also means Chrome OS will support Firefox.

I wonder if support will be limited to Google Play, or whether the framework can be used to run third-party apps such as F-Droid.


All mobile applications, regardless of platform, are inherently crippled. It's not as bad as iOS (at least there are user-accessible generic files...), but there's still a lot of stuff that's crippled because of crap like "simplicity" or "we don't have enough screen real estate".


Hopefully it will push the Android ecosystem to accommodate larger screen sizes.


Not to mention that my fingers are huge.


It is more complete than universal apps, but still minimal compared to the Windows ecosystem.


This is great!!! I wonder if it will be possible to install the Play Store in Chromium OS. I know that Chromium has some support for installing Android .apk files.


You're thinking of the previous ARC solution that used NaCl and Arc Welder to convert apks.

In this case, the Android container contents is not opensourced. They might or might not be down the road, it hasn't been decided on yet.

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/05/the-play-store-comes-... has a bit more info on that.

Same with a few of the pieces in Chrome OS that are needed; not all of them are open at this time but might be down the road.


That might mean the holy grail is achievable: Netflix on the rpi.

/s


Also would love to know if this works. This might eliminate my desire to buy the Android Pixel C device. On the flip side, if this is limited to Chromebooks, this might increase the desire to buy the Chromebook Pixel.


Personally looking at HPs new Chromebook line coming out [0]

Very sleek design, better than the Pixel imo, and several tiers if you don't want to start at $1k.

[0]: http://store.hp.com/us/en/ContentView?storeId=10151&catalogI...


That HP does look enticing and I know it seems small, but I really like the Pixel 2015 having the USB Type-C on each side of the laptop. I can always plug in the cord without having to double back to run it under the laptop based on where the port is. Sometimes the extra foot lets me reach the power socket. (And less stress on the connector).

(Though the lack of upstream kernel support means that I will probably go back to MBPs for my next personal device. I've reverted to just ChromeOS + mosh client for now)


I have the 2015 Pixel and sadly the USB type C ports on either side are my favorite feature. I LOVE not having the chord wrap under the notebook.


Agreeing with the sibling comment, this does look great!

Know if there's any new Chromebooks like it that are shipping with an LTE chip? I have Project Fi, and would love to have data available wherever I need it.


To the Googlers on here -- any idea when it'll come to Chrome browser on other platforms. I really hope Google doesn't artificially delay that to boost Chrome OS penetration.


http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/05/the-play-store-comes-...

"The new model dumps the native-client based implementation for an unmodified copy of the Android Framework running in a container."

Will you run chrome as root on your other platforms so it can start a container?


I wouldn't mind running chromium as root. Well, maybe a separate, small binary whose sole purpose is to manage the containers.


Hmm... good question... I'd be willing to do it, but not sure the vast majority out there will care to jump through the installation hoops required to do that.


What other platforms do you have in mind?


The usual -- Windows, Mac, Linux. I use all 3.


No support for the original Pixel? It's more powerful than quite a few on the list. Damn.


Nowhere says there is not support for the original Pixel. It just does not get it at this point just like other chromebooks.

>Google Play will start rolling out in the developer channel with M53 on the ASUS Chromebook Flip, the Acer Chromebook R 11 and the latest Chromebook Pixel. Over time, this will roll out to other Chromebooks in the market too



According to Ars Technica, the list of compatible Chromebooks appears to be age based. Older Chromebook devices, including the Chromebook Pixel, just aren't officially supported. [1]

[1] [ http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/05/if-you-want-to-run-an... ]


Mine feels like it's slowly turning into a paperweight. :\


I haven't personally tried it, but I think that the majority of ChromeOS is open source, and in theory the bits that aren't (maybe bios, network drivers, video drivers, etc.) will likely be on your existing Chromebook.

Maybe surf around the XDA forums and see if anyone has insight into the matter: http://forum.xda-developers.com/hardware-hacking/chromebooks


I think having a touch screen is important.


The original Pixel has a touchscreen.


I've used my Android tablet exclusively with a mouse for more than a month, it works fine. With a multitouch touchpad, it should be even better.


Intellij for Android, would help a lot some developers ;-)


I assume you are suggesting you want to work on a tablet, or run pure Android on a laptop/desktop.

The other interpretation of your words, given the topic of this article, is that you'd like IntelliJ on a Chromebook, so that: IntelliJ on Android + Android apps on Chromebooks brings IntelliJ to Chromebooks.


Yes I was thinking about getting IntelliJ on a Chromebook as android app.


Oh, great! Since IntelliJ-based Android Studio can be run on a Pixel via Crouton, I would think that doing so with pure IntelliJ wouldn't be that hard.


I hope they will open source this, so we would get Android apps on other Linux distros too. That would be a great win for Linux app ecosystem


Is there a way to try out ChromeOS without owning a chromebook?


Yes, with Neverware CloudReady: http://www.neverware.com/


Interesting, can that be virtualised I wonder?


They provide "unofficial" OVF files for VMware and VirtualBox: https://neverware.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/214564457-Un...


What would be the use case? Better sandboxing than what Chrome/Chromium provides? Im not trying to make a snarky comment. I'm curious what the use case is for you. Thanks


Trying it out before committing to reinstalling your laptop with it?


Yes, this.


x86 builds: http://chromium.arnoldthebat.co.uk/

You can boot from USB and give it a whirl. There are some closed source bits missing, so I'm unsure if, for eg, netflix, will work. But it'll give you a feel for the OS


Does anyone know how permissions would be handled? There are some Android apps I'd like to install on a Chromebook but I certainly don't want them to get access to my contacts.


Why are Chromebooks such a US phenomenon... Here in Australia retail availability is pretty dire. I wonder if this development might see that start to change?


I don't think they are as successful in the state as you might think


Errr, yes they are. From the article: In Q1 of this year, Chromebooks topped Macs in overall shipments to become the #2 most popular PC operating system in the US.


Shipments to stores? What about overall sales?


Here in Africa, they're are few given at tech events or bought by unknowingly parents to their kids.

I got one which helped me to start my first job. Important thing is it's auto update.


But I agree, they are hard to get here...


You can get them on Kogan.com.au


Only the mediocre ones it seems.


While this is a great step forward, I am disappointed in the list of chromebooks supported.

I looked over the list and cannot find a common thread as to what is supported and what isn't. Does anyone know?

My Acer C720 with an i3 isn't on the list, but my Toshiba Chromebook 2 with lesser specs is on the list.


Three Chromebooks are supported initially including the Pixel 2015. Other Chromebooks will be supported later this year. Source: https://support.google.com/chromebook/answer/6401474


I'm disappointed that there is no Cr-48 on the list. I'm still using it as a browser/terminal. It sucks on high-res video now, so I have to force low-res on youtube/HBO/…. I really wished I could run some less demanding android apps. Anyone here hasn't tossed it?


My Cr-48 became too slow for even web browsing. I would not want to run Android apps on that!! I threw it out about 2 years ago


Correct.

My question was about that specific list and I should have been more specific.


Pixel 2015?

So there is a new one coming?


You know 2015 was last year, right?


The first Pixel was released in 2013.


Hopefully this leads to the release of ARM devices with more than 32GB of storage.


Well, time to shred my "Samsung Chromebook", and maybe get something newer or just give up with this "gazillion of models and revisions" bullshit I hated about Windows years back :/


I'd be more interested in seeing Electron apps on ChromeOS before Android apps, not expecting that to happen mind you, Electron on ChromeOS probably does nothing to move the Google ecosystem forward.


I guess people want more than 45 minutes of battery out of their Chromebooks.


Could not agree more. Electron apps do not feel like desktop apps at all, they're closer to VMs in how they start, how they stop and how much resources they require.


Not to take anything away from your comment (I certainly agree that a lot of Electron apps perform significantly worse than their native counterparts), but I thought this statement was funny in this context given that we're comparing Electron apps to ones written in Java, which used to get the same kind of complaints.


For some reason that I do not care enough to figure out, the Slack "native" Linux application uses something like 5 GB of RAM on my desktop.


Are you certain it's Electron based? The OSX Slack app is built with MacGap.


Maybe it's time to upgrade your laptop /s


Yo dawg, I heard you like web technologies so I put an Electron app in your Chrome OS so you can kill your battery with 20 concurrent unkillable Chrome threads [1]

[1] http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/xzibit-yo-dawg (extremely tenuous meme ref going here)


It's a tough fit as Electron apps have access to all of nodejs. Which is a very different philosophy from ChromeOS which keeps its apps very sandboxed.


That would be absolutely terrible.


Google: What does this mean for ARC users?


Obviously there's no-one in the world that didn't know this was coming, but even so, I feel for the Remix OS guys.

I assumed at the time their objective was to be acqui-hired by Google, but I can't see why there would be a reason for that now, or how they'd hope to compete in this situation.

Congratulations to the Chrome O/S and Android teams. I was briefly on a Chromebook when my laptop packed in, and but for the absence of solid developer tools, I'd have stayed forever. There's a lot to be said for convenience.


"but for the absence of solid developer tools, I'd have stayed forever."

Are you saying that Arch or Ubuntu and everything that runs on them aren't enough for you? Or that crouton hadn't evolved far enough at the time?

These days you can run crouton in a window or a tab within ChromeOS. Launch an xterm or IntelliJ or whatever each into their own windows, displaying within ChromeOS.

I'd say that the 2015 Pixel (plus crouton) is one of the best ultrabooks for devs.


Crouton in a window doesn't really work so well --- on my Asus Flip it frequently forgets to redraw the window after changes, which makes it nigh unusable.

I haven't tried rootless mode, though.

I'll agree with you about Chromebooks for developers, though (well, if you like doing everything from text mode, which I do). My ARM-based Flip is a lovely machine. Cheap, ultraportable, completely silent, ludicrous battery life and the quad-core ARM flies.

I just wish they'd get X running in a VC working. (The Flip uses a special graphics stack which apparently makes this hard.)


That's too bad about the Flip and the screen not redrawing. The Pixel doesn't seem to have this problem, and its runs android studio on X no problem.

It can do AS on X in a window or tab, or as a separate desktop. The last mode seems to require the two systems to handing over low level control of the hardware to each other, whereas the first two modes are more seamless. So yes trying the other approach might solve the redraw problem.

Yes, for text mode only things are even easier. The "crosh window" app (plus tmux, etc) is all I need to perfectly happy with Crouton.


Okay, yeah, the Pixel's obviously using the older graphics stack. The new one's called Freon and is apparently loads simpler and faster... but has a few side effects.

(It still has a VC, although the VC2 shell is actually a user-space program called frecon which draws text via Freon. Switching from VC1 to VC2 is super seamless. So it's obviously possible somehow to draw full-screen graphics through Freon.)

Also, I agree; the crosh window is surprisingly good, and interacts nicely with full screen. Bit slow, though. `ls -lR` will wedge the window for a while until it flushes its buffer.


I must say Intellij was what I was thinking of primarily.

Have you got a link?

Previously when I looked at this, Crouton required me to root the Chromebook and effectively switch to Linux rather than run it under Chrome O/S.

If that's changed (which from your post it sounds like it has), then I need to have another look at this!


Crouton still requires you to root the chromebook, so you get the annoying white screen on every boot (unless you are willing to go farther and flash the firmware).

As far as switching to linux rather than run under Chrome OS, I guess that depends on what you mean. Include "xiwi" as one of your components when installing crouton, and you can launch android studio and have it run within the chroot, but display as a window on your chromeOS desktop. Its not visually attractive but functionally i'd say its very well integrated. It 'feels' likes its running directly on chromeos.

Sorry I can't recommend any particular link aside from https://github.com/dnschneid/crouton, but I think its worth a bit of googling to find discussions relevant to any questions you may still have.


What about the missing Windows key?


Yeah... That was one of my concerns also before hand, I forgot about that.

I didn't think I'd be happy on a chromebook because I made regular use of those missing keys, like the windows key, page up, page down, f11, f12. I thought I needed those keys to prevent too much chording.

But I saw the keyboard switch as an opportunity to remap things so that I stay closer to home row more of the time. Its nice. The old (windows style) key layout was also nice, but adapting was easier than I thought, thanks to the flexibility of most linux apps.


After the Android Chrome app gets extensions, what's the point of keeping ChromeOS alive? It's the only thing Android's missing that ChromeOS has.


> It's the only thing Android's missing that ChromeOS has.

Except for instant boot times, really paranoid security and a long list of supportive laptop OEMs


Are those boot times still so good if the first apps you use are Android ones? That would be an apples-to-apples-comparison.

If that's true, then I wonder why ChromeOS would boot up so much faster than Android? I suspect it doesn't.


I guess it's more about devices. Sometimes people do want to use laptop or devices with big screen and real keyboard.


I think his point is they'll just become Android laptops.


For anyone that hasn't yet played with a Chromebook and is interested in this, x86 builds of Chromium OS:

http://chromium.arnoldthebat.co.uk/

This isn't exactly the same (no play store yet), but it'll let you get a feel for the OS and it's merits.


Will apps run natively on Chromebooks or will my fart app slow down because it's being emulated?


Natively. In most cases, faster than the phone version.


There are both ARM and x86 chromebooks, there are both ARM and x86 Android phones. You need to have binaries for both and for Java apps that isn't even an issue. Of course there probably has to be some API translation but usually that isn't particularly slow.


definitely slow farts (it is not emulated, but runs inside a linux container instead, so it won't have that emulation overhead)


year of the linux desktop?


Well it already dominates everything else. I realized every aspect of programming had me interfacing with a Linux system in some way and then decided to just make the switch. I was already using Android, RasPi, IoT devices, linux web servers, linux containers, linux in a VM on Windows, and I'd probably be trying to use "bash on windows" now if I still used Windows. I finally realized that Windows was just getting in the way and decided to get a Linux computer. Honestly using Windows is a much more painful experience than Linux at this point for me.

But I'm not doing advanced document formatting like half the people on HN so I have the luxury to just get by with google docs.


It's ironic that, despite its intrinsic openness, the biggest users of Linux are in the most closed ecosystems like smartphones/tablets, Chromebooks, various proprietary IoT devices, etc. where being open-source essentially means very little to the ease of users modifying, recompiling, and tweaking the software on them.


No, it is the year of the Java desktop.


Careful, Oracle might use this statement!


Google could have avoided all this mess, if they have done it cleanly together with Sun, or bothered to buy them afterwards.

There are quite a few commercial Java vendors with customized versions, like e.g. IS2T with MicroEJ that have licensing agreements in place.

http://www.microej.com/

If Google loses the trial, they will be paying much more than they would have spent.


This is really great news and I hope they execute this right. As liberating as crouton is, I still find myself wanting an Android apps for the ease of access.


Coming soon: Chrome OS made into merely an alternative Android home screen, and Chromebooks becoming “Droidbooks”.


Don't see why not. ChromeOS is a perfectly fine windowed UI, which is exactly what Android needs on convertible and laptop form factors.

Chrome becomes one app that runs on ChromeOS, and all the android apps are first-class citizens too.

Sounds great to me.


Sounds like Windows 8 where the desktop was an "app" on the Start screen.


I assume Google IAB be supported on Chromebooks, too?

Cross-device purchase restoration, etc?


There's virtually no app that I feel thrilled to use on my laptop.


Finally Sonos on Chromebook!




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