Saturday, November 26, 2016

What's Up with Android on Chrome?

The announcement of Android Apps coming to Chromebooks was one of the biggest announcements from Google in 2016. The original announcement happened back in May and the Google Play store is rolling out to more and more Chrome devices.

I'm a big believer in ChromeOS (I wrote a book about it!), so I was interested in this major update to an already great platform. 

I have two Chromebooks that have had access to the Play store for quite a while (Asus Flip and Pixel). I have installed lots of Android apps onto both devices. 

Here's the interesting thing - I don't use them. 

So far, the ability to use Android on Chrome has absolutely zero impact on my daily use of my Chromebook. In fact, I have forced myself to use some Android apps (Pandora, Keep, Pixlr, Photoshop, Instagram) and it hasn't been a very enjoyable (or helpful) experience. 

The apps are designed for mobile phones and don't scale to fit my screen and the interface is designed for touch which means it takes more touches to perform an action. 

Pixlr, my primary photo editing app, is a good example. The left is the Android version of Pixlr. The right is the web-app. 

So far, I have been greatly underwhelmed by the use Android apps on my Chromebook. The only individuals who seem to be genuinely excited about Android on Chrome are those who want to access Android games. 

As an educator, I always ask "how would a classroom teacher use this tool?" So far, I'm not really sure. To me, it seems that adding Android to Chrome just complicates what was a beautifully simply platform. 

Android on Chrome is still very new, so I will reserve my final judgement. Perhaps app developers just need to make ChromeOS optimized versions of their apps. 

Help me out - have you found Android on Chrome to be helpful? What specific apps are you using that make your ChromeOS experience even better? 

3 comments:

  1. I completely agree with your points & perspective ! I too thought that Android apps would be a game changer. But most of the Android apps that might work well on Chrome OS simply because of the "touch screen" ...are games! I was excited when I finally got them on my Asus Flip. I tested quite a few out, but have not really had any need to use them day-to-day,

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    1. I'm still interested in seeing the development of the platform. Perhaps we just need to wait for Chromebook optimized apps.

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  2. The one element of this that excited me (that I haven't been able to experiment with) is video editing. I always hate bringing up WeVideo as the hands-down best video editor available on a Chromebook and then telling them that it sways very heavily toward the Premium side of "Free-mium." Does the addition of Android apps on Chrome open up any good options for Video Editing that may be cheaper or even free?

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