Android laptop? No! Give us Android apps on Chromebooks instead

Android laptop? No! Give us Android apps on Chromebooks instead

Summary: A sketchy rumor of upcoming laptops running Android is thankfully most likely not true. What would be great is bringing Android apps to the Chromebook instead.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Google, Laptops
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An Asian source that often shares rumors that have no basis in fact recently put one out there about upcoming Android laptops. I'm not linking to it, as it's not a news report; it's pure conjecture. It's also a very silly idea on all fronts.

Chromebook Android
(Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

A laptop running Android would offer nothing of benefit to consumers or the enterprise. The OS is designed for phones with small screens, and tablets with slightly larger ones that are totally operated by touch. As good as Android is on those devices, it would not be of much use on a laptop as the primary OS.

We already have Android tablets with laptop docks, like the Transformer line from Asus. These tablets are quite nice for occasional use in the dock as a laptop stand-in, but not as full-time laptops. While a few Android apps work fine on these hybrids in laptop mode, most really need a tablet form to be useful. That's lost on a pure laptop form.

An Android laptop would certainly need a touchscreen to even use most apps. The only apps that would be feasible to use on a laptop are those that scale up to a larger screen; there are quite a few that do, but far more that don't. There would need to be a way to find "laptop" apps in the Play Store, and even that would be hit and miss.

There are some good office suite apps on Android that would open the chromebook up to the enterprise market. While not real Office, these apps go a long way to replacing Microsoft's suite for many.

No, Android laptops won't serve any users that aren't already covered well by existing products. What I'd rather see Google make happen is bring Android apps to the chromebook.

With the first touch chromebook already on the market, it makes far more sense to bring Android apps to Chrome OS. These apps would extend the already useful OS by opening it up to the thousands of apps already out there. While many of the apps wouldn't be a good fit for the laptop form, quite a few others would work just fine.

There are some good office suite apps on Android that would open the chromebook up to the enterprise market. While not real Office, these apps go a long way toward replacing Microsoft's suite for many. Chromebooks could waltz right into the enterprise with ease if they could run Android apps.

The enterprise angle aside, chromebooks with Android apps would have outstanding entertainment options. There are lots of good games and media apps on Android that would be right at home on the chromebook touchscreen.

Chromebooks are solid devices without Android, and I'm not suggesting they need the apps to be useful. But if you have a choice to run the apps, then why not?

I'm happy with the Chromebook Pixel I am using, as it is a fine laptop. But when I think of it adding Android apps to the mix, it would be outstanding.

This would be the case of adding utility to an existing group of products, and that's always a good thing. Making an Android laptop that doesn't provide any utility not already possible with existing products serves no purpose. So please, Google, we don't need Android laptops. Give us chromebooks with Android instead.

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Topics: Mobility, Google, Laptops

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69 comments
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  • Right back to the Chromebook

    I thought you might change after your "fanboy" article. Guess not. If you want mobile device apps on a real computer, go back to the Surface or even your Envy. Oh wait...Those are "unusable" products for you because they run Windows.
    ikissfutebol
    • calm down

      Window RT is like Chrome OS = unusable sh*ts without apps....so calm down :)
      anywherehome
      • Nope

        His Envy is an Atom. It has access to the largest pool of apps. Just happens that the mobile style apps are fewer in number. Sure, maybe a Pro version of the Surface would be better for him. Either way, his complaint is Android apps are for smartphones and yet wants them on a laptop. Windows Store apps work just fine on a tablet or even in a TV (I'm talking about scaling-usability is dependent on the users preference). Again, he shows favoritism for his Chromebook/Chrome OS. If that isn't promotion, I don't know what is.
        ikissfutebol
        • Android Tablets

          The point is that Windows 8 tablets, Surface RT, and Surface Pro, all combined have a miniscule number of touch applications compared with Android, which is why they are not selling on touch devices despite widespread availability, massive industry support, and massive hype and marketing dollars spent on promotion.

          As far as promoting Android for laptops, Google has been resisting pressure from OEMs to do that, and I doubt if that intention has changed. If this rumour is true, I suspect it is because of Google giving in to pressure from OEMs to allow them to do this. OEMs are sitting on a lot of stock and parts orders that they can't shift, and they know they can shift them with Android installed. I think it is a case of Google, mindful of the fact that OEMs may take the Amazon Kindle Fire route and produce their own Android variant if they aren't accommodating, may just have given in.

          There is a precedent for this view in the Acer C7 Chromebook for this. Google relaxed their mandating of SSD and 6.5hr battery life for the Acer C7 Chromebook, in order to allow Acer to sell repurposed Windows laptops with the same spec which were not selling with Windows installed. Android also a good choice for repurposed low end Atom/AMD E series Windows netbooks which are lower spec'ed than the minimum current Chromebook specs.
          Mah
          • Just to clarify...

            I am talking about pressure from OEMs to repurpose Windows 8 tablets, hybrids and low end Atom and AMD E-series Windows netbooks which the OEMs can't sell with Android, so that they are sellable. Chromebooks are selling and Acer has already repurposed budget Windows laptops which they can't sell by installing ChromeOS in order to make them saleable.
            Mah
    • Chromebook running Android apps?

      Seriously JK? I thought the entire point of the Chromebook was to be cloud-centric. It's intended to extend Google's service and advertising sales. Running local applications runs contrary to that goal. To put it another way, why would Google waste the resources to make Chromebook run Android applications when they already have Android for running Android applications? The goals of the two OSes are quite different. It seems to me that you want your apples to taste like oranges, even though oranges are readily available everywhere.
      BillDem
      • So much for tech-journalism

        Android apps on Chromebook? That's like a guy asking for a Silverado diesel engine to be installed on his Cadilacc. "Hey why not? They are both from GM, right? So it should be easy."

        How is this even possible? Where to put that Android java engine, and how to let it interact with the underline OS with a browser in the way while it's not in a typical Android phone? Ideas like this show the author has very little understanding the tech nature of the subject.
        LBiege
        • ...do you remember when people said that about TV and the Internet?

          Actually it's rather straight forward now that Chrome has a more of a "Windows" feel to it with a "Desktop" and "Startbar". Adding the android stack along side the window manager and Chrome Browser would be the next logical step in the progress of the OS. The real btch of the matter is that android apps are designed for phones or tables and not for 14"+ high resolution screens.
          The setup however, would also suffer from the fact that there is no GPS or other sensors available, so some more physical apps would be left out.
          orionshock
      • Android laptop > Chromebook

        Chrome book apps can run in a browser on Android.
        Android is a superset of chrome book.
        if Android apps are so crap on laptops as JK claims, then why would he want them running on chrome books?
        If you want to run both, just get an Android lapdocktop.
        warboat
  • Surface is not selling.

    I read that Microsoft only sold 500K surface computers. Samsung makes a better Windows offering than Microsoft does. Chromebooks boot up the second you open them. That's cool. If Chromebooks ran Android apps and still booted in seconds, that would be way cool.
    Tim Jordan
    • .

      Samsung is a Windows OEM so I would hope they would provide better Windows offerings.
      statuskwo5
    • Strange

      My custom built desktop assembled in 2008 cold boots Windows 8 Pro in about the same about of time my wife's iPhone launches Facebook. As a disclaimer, I stuck an SSD drive in when I installed Windows 8. Otherwise, it's the same guts.
      ikissfutebol
      • So, boot time is the most important aspect of an OS?

        You must spend all day rebooting. My Windows 7 desktop hasn't been rebooted or powered down in many months.

        Seriously though, I keep hearing people mentioning faster boot time as their defense for moving to Windows 8 and I don't get it. There's no way I would give up desktop Aero and desktop gadgets to get a faster boot time, especially knowing that the desktop is being replaced completely by Metro at some point.
        BillDem
        • i agree.

          My windows 7 rig boots, from bios post to 100% ready, in about 15s. And that's with a 2y old hdd. Paying another $100+ for 8 and only getting a few seconds shaved off boot times in return for reduced functionality is not economical.
          rockfanMCE
        • Possibly....

          ... but that isn't practical on laptops or tablets - particularly Windows x86 devices with their high power drain. These make up most sales of devices nowadays.
          Mah
    • Chromebooks aren't selling

      Someone supplied a link that showed approximately 400,000 Chromebooks total sold over the last 2 years.

      And that 400,000 number were for the Surface Pro, alone. 1.5 million total is the number being reported.
      William Farrel
      • 500,000 was mentioned....

        .... but that seems to be $199 Acer C7 sales only in the last 100 days. Samsung sales in the last 150 days ate likely to be two or three times that number. The $250 Samsung series 3 Chromebook has been the number one best selling laptop on Amazon every single day since it went on sale about 150 days ago. In addition to that huge numbers (mostly other Samsung models) have been sold to schools deploying 1:1 laptop deployments (2000 schools and the number is rising exponentially as positive feedback from schools that have deployed it spreads). These do not contribute to retail statistics like Amazon, Best Buy, or Currys PC World, because sales to schools and businesses are made directly through Google's partners.

        Chromebooks were on sale for two years, but until the introduction of the $250 Samsung Series 3 Chromebook 150 days ago, was only directed at education and early adopters, and weren't priced competitively in retail. Therefore it has only really been on sale to the mass retail market for 150 days.

        The installed base of Chromebooks based on web stats is 0.7%, which is a 4 million Chromebooks, and web stats also show a 700% increase since last year. This means 571,429 Chromebooks sold between summer 2011 to summer 2012, and 3,428,571 between summer 2012 and now, the majority of which have been sold in the last 150 days.

        These tend to back Acer's statement that Chromebooks are selling whereas Windows 8 devices aren't. Also Acer reports Chromebooks account for 5% - 10% of its total sales (which presumably means it started with 5% and has increased to 10% currently. Currys PC World - UK's largest consumer electronics retailer also reports that Chromebooks account for 10% of their computer sales, and of course there is Amazon's continual best seller laptop which is a Chromebook.

        The total numbers are not huge given that they have so far only been available only in US and UK, but they are nevertheless very impressive given the fact that there has been no advertising, and given the fact that only in a very limited number of retail outlets allow you to actually try them out - for example most Currys PC world outlets either don't display them, or display only the less popular Samsung 550 model, and on top of that only a very few locations have Google Chromebook in-store mini-stores where the devices are actually connected to a working Internet connection - which means you can't try them out except at a very few stores. If sales are at 10% now, I can easily see them rising to 30% of total laptop sales (as Currys PC world predicted a year ago) when you get more widespread availability and proper advertising. The numbers have been spun by Microsoft PR, but they certainly put the 1,500,000 Windows 8 devices sold with huge hype and a massive advertising campaign, and widespread availability, in the shade.
        Mah
        • not 0.7%, but 0.07%

          Mah, I think the web traffic from Chrome OS is 0.07% according to the research from Chitika.com, where as Playstation accounts for 0.08% of North American web traffic.

          So, the installed base number should be 1/10 of your calculation...around 570,000, isn't it?
          Kainen
          • No 0.7%

            No the 500,000 figure is a guess from Digitimes - probably based on 10% of Acers sales. The 0.70% and 700% growth are from somebody else based on web stats, and it is 0.7%, not 0.07%.

            Digitimes also claimed that by last summer only 300,000 Cgromebooks had been sold. Again this seems to be derived from a figure of 25,000 Acer Chromebooks it claimed were sold in the first month of Chromebook availability - which only makes sense if you take the Acer numbers sold in two weeks (the Acer was 2 weeks late) and multiply that by 12 to get 300,000 Chromebooks for the year. The Digitimes numbers just do not seem to match credible reality, unless they represent Acer numbers only, and even then it is clear the sources are a simple spin of what they have got from Acer statements.
            Mah
          • Here's the link.

            http://technology.canoe.ca/2013/03/28/20691316-relaxnews.html

            QUOTE:
            "The original Chromebooks were offered as cheaper, safer and faster alternatives to traditional notebooks with installed operating systems (such as Windows or Mac OSX), and after two years on the market, according to Chitika Insights, the Chrome OS now accounts for 0.7% of North American web traffic. That's still a tiny amount but considering it accounted for less than 0.2% as recently as October 2012 it is clearly starting to take hold."

            Chromebooks are selling at a phenomenal rate despite limited countries where they are available, lack of retail outlets where people can try them out and no advertising. It is no wonder Microsoft's PR staff are trying to spin it differently given the collapse of Windows 8 device sales.
            Mah