Google is moving on all fronts in mobile, starting with bringing Android apps to Chrome OS. This opens the desktop side of Chrome OS to a vast library of apps written for Android. This move sets the stage for Google to merge Chrome and Android in the future.
Chrome for Android lacks one ability that would be useful, the ability to run Chrome extensions. I wouldn't be surprised to see this happen in the not-too-distant future.
Chrome extensions are small apps that run within the Chrome browser. Like good mobile apps, extensions do one function and do them very well. They run inside the Chrome browser, letting the user do something without leaving the browser environment.
Bringing Android apps to Chrome OS pushes the two platforms closer together. This sets the stage for Google to merge them completely down the road to have one OS for both mobile and desktop.
Extensions have the advantage of being cross-platform by nature. They run in the Chrome browser which on the desktop side of things means they work in OS X, Windows, and Chrome OS out of the box. They run exactly the same on all of these platforms, a good feature for those using more than one platform.
Chrome is now the default browser for Android, and with extensions onboard users of Google’s mobile OS would be able to enjoy the desktop-like features that extensions provide. The Android platform would be far more capable as a result.
Developers instantly have a second platform for their Android apps, widening their target market without doing much extra work. Their Android apps should work on Chrome OS, just as they do on Android. There aren’t many Android apps yet available, but expect that to change rapidly.
Users of Chrome OS will find that Android apps will greatly open up Google’s OS. While browser based, Chrome OS has already been able to run web apps but the selection is not big compared to other desktop platforms. That changes with Android apps coming to Chrome OS.
While Chrome OS is a desktop OS (think Chromebox), it is primarily a mobile OS used on Chromebooks. These laptops running Chrome OS are making inroads into the education sector and are frequently on top seller lists for consumers. Many find the Chromebook to be a good alternative to Windows and OS X laptops, due to low cost and good capability.
The good iimpression of Chromebooks for consumers will grow with the addition of Android apps. The previously restricted OS will soon have thousands of apps available in addition to web apps and Chrome extensions.
Bringing Android apps to Chrome OS pushes the two platforms closer together. This sets the stage for Google to merge them completely down the road to have one OS for both mobile and desktop. This is similar to what Microsoft has done with Windows 8, but Google has the advantage of doing it with two existing solid bases that already run well on mobile devices.
Google may not intend to merge the two OSes into one, but they've set the stage to make it easier. They will likely keep sharing features between the two in any event, making both OSes more appealing.