Chromebooks are a brilliant mobile option for so many people. Not only do they greatly simplify many of the processes for using a laptop, but they are also secure, and rarely suffer from slowdowns. But for some, the lack of actual apps makes Chrome OS a questionable choice. Fortunately, it’s not only possible to enable Linux (and install Linux apps) on your Chromebook, but it’s also possible to enable the installation of Android apps. Once you have this feature enabled, you can install any app from the Google Play Store.
Of course, there’s a caveat. You might find some apps don’t work as expected. This can occur when an app isn’t optimized for a larger display (like a tablet). Even apps that aren’t optimized can still work (they just might be a bit small). Another issue is that if an app depends on phone functionality, it won’t work. Lastly, not every Chromebook is supported. Here’s a convenient list of ChromeOS hardware that does support Android apps.
With all of that said, I’ll show you how to enable Android app support and how to install your first application.
How to enable Android apps on your Chromebook
1. Open Settings
The first step is to open the Settings app. Click the System Tray at the bottom-right corner of your screen and then click the gear icon (Figure 1).
2. Enabling Android app support
In the resulting window, scroll down until you see the Apps section and then click Turn on (Figure 2).
You will then need to accept the Terms of Service (Figure 3).
You can opt out of backing up your Android apps to Google Drive if you like, click More, and then, when prompted, click Accept (Figure 4).
The installation will begin and should complete fairly quickly. Once the install completes, you’ll be taken back to the Settings window and then the Google Play Store window will eventually open, where you can install your first app. Before you do, the play store will install the Android Accessibility Suite in the background. You need to allow that to finish before installing anything. If you find the Google Play Store keeps crashing, it means the Accessibility Suite isn’t done installing. Give it time and it’ll finish.
Installing your first Android app on Chrome OS
The installation of Android apps on Chrome OS is handled in the same way you’d install them on your Android phone. Say, for instance, you want to install the Firefox web browser. To do that, type Firefox in the search bar of the Google Play Store app (Figure 5).
On the resulting page (Figure 6), click Install and allow the installation to complete.
When the installation finishes, you’ll find the app available in the Chrome OS launcher.
And that’s all there is to installing Android apps on Chrome OS. Once you start installing applications, you’ll find this helps to bring your Chromebook to the next level of productivity.