This week was full of some incredibly interesting announcements for Chrome OS. While I was really hoping for a sneak peek at Material You for laptops, I was instead left standing with my hands out. However, Google Play apps, Linux, progressive web apps, and gaming all got the royal treatment, so I’m more than satisfied to talk about all that we did hear instead.
As a part of the ‘Optimizing your Android Games and Apps to run on Chrome OS’ session at Google’s I/O conference, Patrick Fuentes of the Chrome OS Developer Relations Team dropped an interesting tidbit related to the experience of using Android content on Google’s laptops. Specifically, he stated that the company is looking to improve its focus on surfacing apps that intentionally build desktop-like experiences for their users. Such content will appear at the top of the store first for Chromebook owners so that the chances of them installing titles that help them get the most out of their devices drastically increase.
It’s worth noting that the Play Store has already begun doing this to some extent. If you navigate to the Games section, and then to the Premium Games tab, you’ll find that the verbiage for it targets Chromebooks. Unfortunately, I’ve found that this section is scarcely updated with new content, and these games don’t really seem to have a large focus on gamepads, mice, keyboards, and so on – all things that were discussed at length during the Inputs Matter for Chrome OS session we reported on yesterday. It’s clear that Google wants apps and games to suck less on Chromebooks, so they may be coming back around to the idea of keeping the Store fresh and interesting for larger screens – an effort that was either only gently touched upon or completely abandoned after the aforementioned premium games segment.
We’re also improving the Play Store on Chrome OS to surface high-quality apps and games on the platform. This means that we’ll be putting apps and games that do the work to create great user experiences in front of Chromebook users.Patrick Fuentes – Chrome OS Developer Relations Team
If you happen to be a developer, you should know that this all means that if you want your app or game to be discoverable in the Google Play Store, you’ll need to seriously consider adding support for Chromebooks and their inputs in a thoughtful way instead of just creating for phones and tablets as you’ve done in the past. Times are changing, and just as with Google Search algorithm updates, if you don’t adapt, you get left behind! In the end, the user wins if everyone bands together to solve the problem of the Play Store’s incongruence with laptops.
Though it may take several years for finding high-quality Chromebook apps and games to become the standard on our devices, it’s clear that Google wants its extremely popular marketplace to service users across its hardware ecosystem moving forward, and I’m extremely excited by that! All of this paired with Borealis and the fact that games built with unity can now use Chrome OS as a build target means that the company is not solely relying on cloud gaming like Stadia to push us into the future. Instead, it wants to take the operating system to the next level of maturity and usefulness for creatives, professionals, gamers, and casual users alike.