First off, let’s put this one down as a bit of conjecture and a strong dose of logic. Google hasn’t officially announced a firm release date for GPU Acceleration for Linux apps on Chromebooks just yet, but we know they are already working on it.
What we’re seeing this week from the Android Developer Summit – via About Chromebooks – is an announcement of full support for Android Studio as an official IDE on Chrome OS:
We also announced today that we’re making Android Studio an officially supported IDE on Chrome OS early next year.
Sure, you can get Android Studio up and running via Linux Apps on Chromebooks already, but one thing is definitely not working: app emulation.
App emulation in Android Studio requires GPU hardware acceleration, so it makes sense that this doesn’t quite work yet. This is obviously an important part of giving developers a tool to build and test apps right on a Chromebook, so getting this up and running is core to calling Android Studio on a Chromebook an official, supported project.
Once this official version of Android Studio hits early next year, it stands to reason that GPU acceleration will have to come along for the ride.
Yeah, But I’m Not A Dev, So Why Do I Care?
The truth is, most people who read these articles aren’t app developers. But this news isn’t just good news for developers. It is great news for all Chromebook users in general.
There are a few reasons for this, but the big ones are video editing and gaming.
With Steam announcing the Steam Play compatibility layer allowing Linux to run Windows games, we have a clear path to a great gaming library building up right in front of us. Add to that a few Chromebooks in development that actually have discrete GPU hardware and real gaming on Chromebooks might be closer than we all think.
Video editing is also something many people clamor for on Chromebooks. There are options out there and a few of them (Kinemaster, for one) are getting better with better Chromebook support, but opening the door to powerful tools on Linux like Lightworks could drastically change the overall perception of what is possible with Chromebooks and Chrome OS.
It is still early days, here, so don’t expect these changes to take full root overnight. Given time, though, I think we are still looking to a bright horizon where Chromebooks will be able to do as much or as little as users demand of them.