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Six Clicks: Androids Apps on Chromebooks

Look out, Windows! With Google starting to bring over a million Android apps to Chromebooks, the Windows PC is going to face a real challenge.
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Topic: Mobility
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1 of 6 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Android apps come to Chrome

Popular FUD about Chromebooks has it that you can't do anything with them if they're not on the Internet. Not true! You can write in Google Docs, run AutoCAD, or respond to your Gmail messages and far, far more. There are literally hundreds of Chrome off-line applications.

What there hasn't been many of are apps designed to run outside Chromebook's Web browser interface except for Chrome's Desktop apps that can both run off-line and outside the browser window. Until now.

Recently Google started making it possible to run Android apps on Chromebooks. For now, there are only four applications, but developers looking into the code have already found that porting their applications to Android on Chrome will require almost no effort.

With over a million Android apps waiting in the wings, Chromebooks are about to become even more of a true rival to Windows PCs.

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2 of 6 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Android Evernote on Chrome

Evernote Web, the popular notebook and organizer program, have long been available on Chrome OS, but it's not the full program. Now, the complete Android Evernote is available on Chromebooks.

If you rely on Evernote to manage your working life, as many of my friends do, this may be reason enough just by itself to give a Chromebook a try.

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3 of 6 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Dulingo on Chrome

Dulingo is a simple program for learning foreign languages. What makes this application interesting is that it uses both your Chromebook's speaker and microphone. It's proof that voice-aware Android apps are on their way to Chromebooks.

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4 of 6 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Kid Sight Words

Educational Android applications and simple games, such as Kid Sight Words, show that programs for younger users are also on their way to Chrome OS.

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5 of 6 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Vine

Vine is a popular, fun little program for creating short looped videos. This again is a proof of concept. In this case, it shows that you can create, edit, and play short videos on a Chromebooks.

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6 of 6 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

More, many more, Android apps are on the way to the Chrome Web browser and Chrome OS

Google uses the beta App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) to enable Android apps to run on Chrome OS. This, in turn, is built on Native Client, which is a sandbox for running compiled programs within the Chrome Web browser independent of the user’s operating system.

That last bit is important. It indicates that by using ARC you can not only run Android apps on Chrome OS, but within the Chrome Web browser on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows PCs as well. It turns out that isn't just a theory. It can be done in real life.

Vlad Filippov, an independent developer, has released chromeos-apk. With this you can both try to run any Android app on Chrome OS or under the Chrome Web browser on any of its supported desktop operating systems.

This is beta software. Some programs won't work, and even with the apps that do work you'll need to do a fair amount of tweaking. For example SoundCloud, shown above, tends to break.

Still, the way is clear. Android apps are coming to Chrome OS, and indeed any platform with the Chrome Web browser. A revolution in desktop computing is on its way and these are the first waves.

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