We cover a lot of ground here at Chrome Unboxed. It is our hope that, despite our obvious inclination to Chrome OS, that we can provide you with a source for concise, reliable information from the world of Chromebooks.
Even amongst rumors, hopes and flat out dreaming, we do our best to research our work to the best of our abilities and attempt to provide solid evidence in areas we do a lot of hypothesizing.
With all the subjects we cover, including upcoming devices, Chrome OS features, Smart products and everything in between, one subject is always a hot topic for many of our readers.
Play Store and Chrome OS
We, like many, have been not-so-patiently waiting for Android Apps to officially land on millions of Chromebooks around the world. If it seems like it’s been forever since Google announced that the Play Store was coming to Chrome OS that’s because it has.
It’s been nearly a year since Google I/O and the announcement of Android Apps coming to Chromebooks. In tech time a year might as well be a decade. We love new tech and, if you tell us it’s coming, we want it ASAP.
All complaints aside, one thing remains. Google projected that Android Apps would arrive for Chrome OS devices in late 2016 or early 2017. Now, they may be pushing it to the very limit but the fact remains we are still in Q1 of 2017 and Google can most certainly make good on their promises.
With that being said, I’d like to take a moment to pontificate about the arrival of the Play Store.
I say pontificate in jest but let’s be realistic for a moment. Creating an environment where these two operating systems run side by side in harmony is an enormous undertaking.
Maybe Google pulled the trigger to soon on making this announcement. Possibly they pulled a Henry Ford and said “we’re going to make this work and we’ll just figure out the details along the way.”
Developers have surely been faced with a multitude of obstacles in this project and as we have seen on current devices there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Manufacturers haven’t exactly been shy about touting Android Apps on their Chrome OS devices. As early as September of last year, Samsung advertised “powered by Android” on their Chromebook landing page.
Lenovo followed suit with some very well produced videos leveraging the Play Store on the ThinkPad Chromebook 13.
Let’s not forget the confusion of the ASUS C302. Advertised with Android Apps out of the box, the premier convertible was quickly reverted after its release and the Play Store is nowhere to be found.
While I’m sure OEMs are as anxious as we are, all the premature announcements surely point to the looming fact that the Play Store release is likely right around the corner.
The Samsung Chromebook Plus has access to the Play Store in the Stable channel now. It’s not officially on the list yet but Android Apps are there and for the most part they are working well.
The Plus’ counterpart, the Chromebook Pro, is slated for release in late April. Word from Google is that, not only will the Pro have Android Apps, but the Play Store will finally be out of “Beta.”
The pending release also happens to fall right in line with another schedule; the roll out of Chrome OS 58.
According to the Chromium calendar, the estimated Stable date for Chrome 58 is the week of April 25th. For those who aren’t familiar, Chrome OS updates generally take place in the following week of the corresponding release of the Chrome browser for desktop and Android.
You’d be hard pressed to convince me that the Play Store won’t be live by the beginning of May. Again, this is my theory based on the facts in front of me mixed with a little theoretical ramblings.
The Wild Card
Here’s where I knock a little wind out of the proverbial sails.
Chromium developers are working day and night to optimize the Arc project(the container that handles Android) for Chrome OS. As with most software, even after the release there will be bugs to fix and enhancements to be made.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean your choice of over one million Android Apps will all work like you hope. It’s now up to the app developers to ensure their applications are tailored for the Chrome OS environment.
We’ve already witnessed on Play-enabled devices Android Apps that have serious hiccups or just flat do not work at all. A prime example is Clash of Clans. One of the top 5 downloads of Google Play, I have yet to get this wildly popular game working on a Chromebook.
Whether on a touchscreen or my traditional Acer 14, the game just locks up the moment you click or touch anything. Disappointing to say the least. I don’t say this to rain on the parade, only to create a more realistic sense of what to expect when the Play Store finally arrives.
These are the issues we’ll be faced with in the coming months. Hopefully, developers will make haste and consumers can demonstrate patience as these types of bugs are ironed out.
So, at the end of the day, the release of the Play Store for the rest of us is coming but only Google knows exactly when. I will say with a fair amount of confidence we will see the roll-out begin, at least partially, with the release of Chrome OS 58.
If I happen to be wrong just remember, I’m on this train with you guys and as awesome as it would be to work for Google, I do not. I’m only making conjecture and keeping my fingers crossed with everyone else.