Earlier this month, the developer preview of the upcoming Android 12 operating system landed, and as exciting as it looks for mobile devices, we’re still stuck on Android 9 here in the land of Chrome OS. For nearly a year now, developers have been working on the transition from the current Android container on Chrome OS to a new VM that will handle the Android ecosystem. We initially believed that the aptly named “ARCVM” would land on Chrome OS at roughly the same time as Android 11 arriving for mobile devices. Sadly, that has not been the case and Chromebooks are still running on Android Pie(9).
While it is still very plausible that Chrome OS will eventually see an update to Android 11, aka Red Velvet Cake, Android Police has spotted some new commits that are laying the groundwork for the yet-to-be-released Android 12. Code-named “snow cone,” the unearthed commit shows the addition of the new android-vm-sc package right beneath the existing Android 9 container and the Android 11(rvc) VM that has been the testing bed for the new ARCVM environment.
While Andriod 12 is chock full of exciting new features and some overhauled layout design, much of the tweaks and updates are exclusively useful for mobile devices and won’t really translate to the Chrome OS desktop. That said, the arrival of Android Snow Cone to the repository has led many to theorize that Chrome OS is going to skip Android 11 entirely. While that very well could happen, I have dug through the commits and I see no evidence that Android 11 is being passed up.
Given that Android 12 won’t officially arrive until some time in Q3 or Q4 and the fact that Android 11’s ARCVM has been in the works for nearly a year on Chrome OS, it’s more realistic that an upcoming Chromebook update will contain the push to Android 11. My guess is that the Android 11 VM is near ready for release and the addition of the Android 12 VM is simply getting things ready for the next major update on Chrome OS. When that could be is anybody’s guess. If you ask me, I think we’ll see Android 11 arrive on Chrome OS at some point during the middle of 2021 with Android 12 not arriving until next year but that’s purely speculation at this point.