I have some good news and some bad news about the long-anticipated merging of Chrome and Android. Google announced at the I/O conference this week that last month's rumors about Chromebooks getting Android apps were (mostly) true.
PC World, Wired, and other sites are reporting that Android apps will be coming to some Chromebooks next month. Google has released a list of Chromebook models which will get the update, and they're basically limiting it to just Chromebooks produced in the last couple years.
To make this work, Google engineers will build the Android N framework into Chrome OS. That ensures Android apps run quickly and easily with “no overhead and no performance penalties from emulation or virtual machines,” says product manager director Kan Liu. It also means you’ll see phone notifications on your Chromebook and share files between devices. Apps will appear on Chrome OS the same way you’d expect from a desktop app: in individual, resizable, see-a-bunch-at-once windows. (It helps that Google encourages developers to build apps for all screen sizes, so things should scale well.) You can share between apps, even between Android apps and the Chrome browser.
Logging into a new Chromebook or borrowing one from a friend will be like booting up a new Android phone: All your apps will download, and you can decide which data to store on your device. (In other news, expect Chromebook hard drives to get bigger.)
Well, most of your apps will download to the compatible models. Apps which require specific hardware might not show up. Also, on-touchscreen Chromebooks will have a more limited selection of apps (basically only the apps which developers specify will work on your Chromebook).
So this is a less than complete solutions, but it's still hugely better than what Chromebook owners had last month, when only a handful of Android apps worked on Chromebooks. Now some Chromebook owners will have a much larger selection of apps, and will be able to run them in windows, or full-screen. Liliputing reports that the windows will work in both portrait and landscape. The apps will look about like they would on a Nexus 9 tablet in landscape mode, or a Nexus 5 smartphone in portrait mode.
All in all, this is great news for just about every type of app, including ebook apps. Chromebooks have made for marginal reading devices due to the limited support by developers; now the Kindle Android app will supplant the Kindle Cloud Reader, and now we'll finally get more options than just Readium, Play Books, etc.
Which ebook app do you think will be first, Kindle or Kindle?
image via Droid Life