Easy methods to Get Android Apps on a Chromebook

One of the most exciting changes Google has made to its Chrome OS platform in recent years has been the support of Android apps. While Chrome OS has been able to run Chrome browser extensions, web apps, and Chrome apps, adding millions of Android apps has dramatically increased the value of the platform.

Most modern Chromebooks come standard with the Google Play Store, which allows you to quickly install most of your favorite Android apps.

If your Chromebook was launched in or after 2017, most Android apps are guaranteed to run. If you're not sure whether your Chromebook is qualified, Google has an extensive list that you can check. Google is introducing Android compatibility device by device. Therefore, it is a good idea to find your specific model if possible.

If you are not on this list, there is still one way to do it. Just continue with our second section.

If your Chromebook already supports Android apps, start here

First, make sure your Chromebook is running the latest version of Chrome OS. You need version 53 or higher.

Step 1: From the pop-up menu, click the Quick Settings panel (system clock), and then click the Settings gear.

Step 2: The Settings window opens. Select "About Chrome OS" under "Advanced" in the lower left corner.

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Step 3: Under "About Chrome OS" the platform will be updated automatically when a newer version is available. Restart as desired. If it doesn't update automatically, click the Check for Updates button and restart it as desired.

After updating your Chromebook, return to the Settings screen.

Step 1: Scroll to the Apps section.

Step 2: Click the Turn on button that appears next to the Google Play Store setting.

Step 3: Click the blue Accept button.

The Google Play Store app opens and you are asked to accept some additional terms and conditions. Once you've done this, you can proceed to the Download … step to install the apps you selected.

If your Chromebook doesn't yet support Android apps, start here

When you switch to the developer channel, your Chromebook is exposed to the usual risks associated with running the preview software. Errors can occur, things can break, and generally you are largely on your own in terms of support. And here's a massive caveat: to return to the regular stable channel, you need to wash your Chromebook with Powerwash. How Chrome OS refers to a factory reset.

In other words, make sure that all of your data is backed up before you start this process. If you're not familiar with running untried software, keep in mind that the Chrome OS developer channel manages your Chromebook on the least proven version available.

Option 1: Switch to the Chrome OS developer channel

Once you've decided to take the risk, switching your Chromebook to the Chrome OS developer channel is relatively easy.

Step 1: From the pop-up menu, click the Quick Settings panel (system clock), and then click the Settings gear.

step 2: The Settings window opens. In the lower left corner under Advanced, select About Chrome OS.

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Step 3: Select Additional Details to expand the page and look at the details of your Chrome OS installation.

Step 4: Click the Change Channel button to open a dialog box where you can choose a new channel for your Chromebook.

Step 4: You have two options, beta and developer – unstable. Select Developer – Unstable and read the warning carefully. When you are sure that you want to continue, select the blue "Change Channel" button.

Step 5: Chrome OS updates your device and puts it on the developer channel. Wait for the process to complete, then click the Restart button.

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Step 6: Sign in as normal after your Chromebook restarts after applying the update to go to the developer channel. You now have the Google Play Store (Beta) app in your apps bar.

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Step 7: Open the Play Store app and go through the terms of use, backup options, and request to allow Google to collect anonymous location data.

Step 8: If you agree with everything, click the "Agree" button.

Step 9: The Play Store is set up. You will be asked to accept the Google Play Terms of Service. Select Accept to continue.

The Play Store will open, and you may already be signed in if your Android account is the same one you used to sign in to your Chromebook. If you're asked to set up your Play Store account, follow the instructions.

Option 2: Use Linux to load apps from the page

You also have the option to use Linux (Crostini on Chromebook) to sideload Android apps if you prefer. This can be useful for those who prefer Linux commands and want to make some Android apps more stable on a Chromebook. Sideloading apps means you don't have to download your apps from the Play Store. This makes it easier to access some apps that you may want to use.

However, there is a catch – the process is not easy. You need to be familiar with Linux and Android APKs for it to work. If you want to start, do the following:

Step 1: From the pop-up menu, click the Quick Settings panel (system clock), and then click the Settings gear.

Step 2: The Settings window opens. Select Linux (Beta) on the left.

Step 3: Select Turn On and follow the on-screen instructions.

Step 4: With Linux enabled, return to the Linux (Beta) section and select Develop Android Apps.

Step 5: Activate the setting Enable ADB debugging.

You can now run various commands through the Chrome Terminal to install ADB tools, connect Android to Linux, and make sure everything is compatible. After that, you need to search and download Android APKs for the apps you want and use terminal commands to load the apps from the page. At this point, it will be downloaded as a Linux file.

Here's a complete guide you can use if you want to run the specific commands you need to run the setup processes and download the apps. It's certainly not for everyone, but those who like to use Linux will find it a great way to run all Android apps with high performance.

Download and install your Android apps

Installing Android apps from the Play Store on a Chromebook is similar to installing them on an Android device. You will find that the Play Store is formatted for a tablet-style screen. Other Android apps can work the same way – an app takes over the tablet's user interface if the developer has enabled it. Otherwise, they are scaled to the larger screen of the Chromebook or remain visually in smartphone mode. The latter can crash if you force a full screen window.

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Step 1: To install an app, simply search for it in the Play Store, click on its entry and click the Install button. If you don’t see the button, the app isn’t compatible with your Chromebook’s hardware.

Step 2: The app starts installing and then pauses to ask for required permissions. Accept them on request. Once installed, the app will appear in the Chrome OS application bar. Select the icon to run it.

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You can manage Android apps like other Chrome OS apps. The same window controls are in the upper right corner, while the back arrow button is in the upper left corner, so you can easily navigate through the app.

Note: Some apps can be "instant apps". This means that you can open and try them before you download them. This way, you can test how an Android app works before you fully install it.

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Additional tips for the Android app

Chromebook age: The quality of your Android app depends on your Chromebook. For example, Chromebooks with touchscreens and especially 2-in-1 devices offer the best Android app experience. System components such as accelerometers also make playing games and other tasks more enjoyable. Remember, always update your Chromebook before trying to download Android apps!

Synchronize: Your Android apps, like other apps, try to automatically sync with the data in other Chromebooks you're signed in to. However, they may not be synced if you're using the app on a non-Chrome device.

Permissions: Your Android apps also have permission settings so you can customize what data the app can access on your Chromebook to better protect your privacy. In the Google Play Store, you can select Manage Android settings and search for apps to adjust permissions for specific apps and get more information.

Administrators: Administrator settings may block the ability to add the Chrome Store or Android apps to your computer. If you are at work or at school, you may need to secure permissions or switch to another network.

Upcoming changes with Android 11

Android 11 will be available soon, and when it comes to that, you can expect many changes in the process of using Android apps on a Chromebook. Android is expected to run as a separate virtual machine that is native to Chrome OS – similar to our Linux method described above, but much more accessible. This makes using Android apps much easier and safer – in theory. We'll update our guide based on what we've learned from Android 11 in the coming months. However, keep in mind that things will change soon with the release of the public beta.

The first version is now available to everyone with Pixel 2, 3, 3a or 4 for feedback, testing and development. Developers are particularly interested in the ability to test applications through the Pixel and Android runtime emulators to ensure a smooth integration from the start. The beta test consists of three phases, from June to August 2020, with a focus on final APIs and platform stability, before the full client will be launched sometime in the third quarter of 2020.

Notable security enhancements have also been made, including automatic privilege reset, one-time privileges, and improved storage enforcement. In terms of APIs and functions, Beta currently offers media and device control, visual 5G indicators, secure sharing of large amounts of data, and much more. We will continue to update this article as more information becomes available.

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