IT'S AN EXCITING DAY for a very small number of people. After months of a not very reliable test environment in the dev channel for a few selected Chromebooks, Android apps are being made available from today for a few selected Chromebooks.
It's still in developer preview, so expect a whole crock of bugs, but a beta release of Chrome OS (Chrome OS beta 53.0.2785.36 since you ask) is usually made stable the following month, so this should go to the masses soon.
Except it's not quite the masses, as it's currently only for the Asus Chromebook Flip, Acer Chromebook R11 and Google's 2015 Chromebook Pixel. It is expected to roll out to more Chromebooks at a later date, however, with full availability before the year is out.
This is another step closer to a fuller compatibility between Google's two operating systems, and it opens the door to millions of apps for Chrome OS users, making the cheap PC alternative even more enticing.
The problem for Google will be convincing potential customers that this is a better idea than some of the dedicated Android-powered devices on the market.
As well as myriad Android-powered set-top boxes, such as the newly released Emtec Gembox, Jide has pretty much nailed it with Remix OS, a custom build of Android (recently upgraded to Marshmallow) adding Windows features such as taskbar and start menu and available for free.
We've also seen the emergence of projects such as Andromium's Superbook, a barebones laptop that uses a phone as a CPU. It's an idea first tried with Ubuntu, but that project is currently on ice. As for the Superbook, we're expecting to go hands-on later in the year.
The fact is that Google has arrived very late at its own party here, and it will be fascinating to see how much longer it's going to take for a full rollout, and how effective it will be with so many alternatives already available for retail sale. µ
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