The Android app development industry just got a lot more interesting with a development that may be the biggest game-changer ever: and it didn’t even come from Android. Well, on the surface, anyway. This game-changer comes from Google. So, what is this “game-changer”?
The newest version of the Google Chromebook OS, number 53, allows Chromebook users to download more than one million Android apps and use them on their Chromebooks. On the surface, many won’t see this as a game-changer. However, they don’t realise that more people are using Chromebooks than Macs right now.
So, how is this all going to work? Chromebook users simply have to download and install a software update. After that, they will be able to use more than one million Android apps on their Chromebooks.
The latest version of Chrome, Chrome OS 53, is available on Google Play. For now, the software update is in the beta stage and will only work on the ASUS Chromebook Flip. Soon, it will be available for the Acer Chromebook R11 and the Google Pixel.
Industry insiders say this change will turn Chromebooks into something closer to the laptop computers they resemble.
How it Works So Far
The update looks like it will be a breath of fresh air for Chromebook users but it does have its limitations. Since most Android apps are developed for smartphones, a sizeable portion of Android apps will be disqualified. For example, Snapchat won’t work because there is no rear camera. Any app that involves texting won’t work on a Chromebook. GPS apps won’t work, either.
However, all of these limitations relate to hardware. While your four year-old Chromebook won’t ever have GPS built in, future generations of Chromebooks will address the hardware limitations.
Another temporary issue is storage space. One of the reasons Chromebooks are so cheap is that they don’t have a lot of storage space. They aren’t designed to provide storage space for offline use of apps. A lot of older Chromebooks don’t have any capacity for storage expansion. This will also be addressed in next generation Chromebooks.
That being said, there are a lot of great Android apps that will greatly enhance Chromebook. The Android apps run and display perfectly on Chromebooks. However, there are some caveats. Since Chromebooks don’t have multi-window capability, an app like Netflix turns off if you leave it to go to another app.
What it Means to an Android App Developer
I think this is the biggest development in Android app development since tablet computers first came out. It has just created an entirely new device and thousands of niches with it. I also believe that it will create an entirely new kind of customer: the Chromebook user who wants Android apps to work on a computer.
This is similar to being on the “ground floor” when tablets were introduced. Those who successfully “decode” Chromebook users are going to have a lot of opportunity to make a lot of money.
Who is Using Chromebooks?
The biggest news of 2016 is that Chromebooks outsold Macs in the first quarter of 2016. But the big question is: who is buying and using Chromebooks? According to The Verge, a news source that reports heavily on tech, roughly 2 million Chromebooks were moved during the first quarter of 2016. Most of them seem to be going to the US for K-12 education.
While Chromebooks are outselling Macs, they are taking business directly away from PC’s, or Microsoft-based personal computers. With prices as low as 149 USD, they are becoming popular in the US.
So, while there isn’t a lot to work on, it’s a good guess that US kids whose parents are looking for an inexpensive but fast alternative to tablets and expensive laptops are the primary users right now. It isn’t Australia but their money spends just as well as ours.
So What is Your Android App Creation Idea?
We hope this piece inspires you to think of a way you can get in on the ground floor and create an app or a series of apps that capture the imagination and hearts of the new Chromebook user. Could it be an education-based app? How about a game that looks great on the bigger screen provided by Chromebooks.
To learn more or to talk to us about an idea, click “Contact Us” on the navigation bar at the top of the page.