The road to Android Apps on Chrome OS has been a long and somewhat laborious one to say the least. With the release of the Play Store to Chromebooks imminent, it won’t be long before developers are inundated with a new world of issues to overcome with app compatibility. One key feature that we have already seen as a major deficit is the lack of basic keyboard support for most Android Apps.
The upcoming release of Android O (Android 8) will address the problem of keyboard navigation on Chromebooks by adding a basic standard for arrow and tab functions in Android. Dave Burke, Google’s VP of engineering for Android, recently shared the direction Android is moving to create a more harmonious marriage of Chrome OS and Android Apps.
With the advent of Google Play apps on Chrome OS and other large form factors, we’re seeing a resurgence of keyboard navigation use within these apps. In Android O we focused on building a more reliable, predictable model for “arrow” and “tab” navigation that aids both developers and end users.
If you have been lucky enough to experiment with Android Apps on Chrome OS this will most likely come as very welcome news. Many apps that work perfectly on mobile feel lacking on a larger Chromebook without proper keyboard navigation. Creating a basic platform for keyboard functions and allowing app developers to further customize these features will surely lead to a more natural experience when using Android Apps on Chrome OS.
Personally, a standard gaming layout like most Steam games would be a dream come true. It will be in the developers hands to add and tweak this support for their respective apps. It’s unclear how much control they will have over these functions but the thought of user key mapping inherent to Android Apps would be my hope for the long-term.
We are still anticipating the release of the Play Store in late April with the roll-out of Chrome OS 58. Whether or not it contain the Marshmallow or Nougat platform is a mystery. As for when we will see Android O on a Chromebook? You’re guess is as good as mine. Only Google knows.
Source: Android Developer Blog