Linux app support on Chrome OS – once thought of as a niche development – continues plowing forward with more hardware support and necessary features for the everyday scenarios general users would need to actually leverage it. We’ve talked about GPU acceleration being one of the key factors in this entire effort, but audio and mic support are definitely close in importance. Though audio support has been in the works for a few months (due by Chrome OS 74), there’s been nothing said about microphone support until now.
Why It Is Vital
Microphone support is important for a couple reasons and video/audio calling is one of them. It is hard to imagine a scenario where you give a Chromebook to any user, allow them to easily install a Linux app, and then tell them that anything related to audio capture isn’t possible.
Forget chat apps, video calls, audio recording, voice memos, etc. Just as limiting as not having sound output, the lack of microphone support is pretty crippling in many scenarios. Speaking of audio support, I can imagine quite a few users wanting to eventually leverage Chromebooks to lay down tracks in studio software. Without microphone access, this gets pretty tricky and limiting.
As you can clearly see in this bug report, microphone access is getting worked on by the Chrome OS team and we’ll hopefully see sooner rather than later. It is important to note that, because of the sandboxing that is present with Linux apps on Chromebooks, each of these new access points that get added take time and careful attention to detail to keep things tight and secure.
But, we are now at the point where we are expecting to see GPU acceleration, audio support, and microphone support in the coming months. There are other missing pieces here and there, but once these things get fully ironed out, the experience of using Linux apps on Chromebooks should be a pretty solid one for most users. While I love all this development, I’m still a web purist and look forward to the day when all my apps and services on my Chromebook and phone are all simply PWAs delivered to my devices straight from the web.
Until then, however, I’m all for Linux and Android support feeling as clean, native, and user-friendly as possible!