Starting out by highlighting the explosive growth of Chromebooks across the board, the What’s new in Chrome OS keynote didn’t do much to give us a bunch of info we didn’t already know, but it did a great job of combining much of what we’ve been talking about here at Chrome Unboxed over the past few months into a quick presentation. As we see the huge growth of Chromebooks across enterprise, education and consumer channels, presentations like this do a great deal to bring about more developer attention for Chrome-specific app use cases.
The presentation begins by focusing on the web. As a platform, the web can now deliver application experiences that in most cases rival those we see on native platforms. With new notifications, payment options, shortcuts, and more, web apps are more powerful than ever. Chromebooks are in a prime position to take full advantage of all this growth and developers are learning the value in not only building web-based applications, but delivering them via the Play Store for Chromebooks as well.
Android app usage on Chromebooks has also experienced huge growth, balooning by 3X over the past year alone. In a push to make Android apps on Chromebooks better, the team is not just pushing Android 11 via a new VM container (ARCVM), but they are continuing to provide developers the tools they need to make better experiences across larger screens, take advantage of multiple input methods (keyboard, mouse, touchscreen) and optimize apps for both x86 and ARM binaries. As Google continues to make the app building experience more and more seamless, we sincerely hope that more awesome Android app experiences will follow. Additionally, the latest alpha build of Unity supports Chrome OS as a build target in the Android Developer Environment, meaning game developers will be able to build robust games with Chromebooks in mind moving forward.
Finally, we are finally going to see the Linux environment on Chromebooks exit beta status. Since the introduction of Linux apps on Chromebooks, the project formerly known as ‘Crostini’ has come a long way and the Chrome OS team is reporting improvements in stability, faster updates, better USB support, an improved terminal app, port forwarding and overall better performance. Additionally, instead of your Linux container needing a separate and distinct update when Chrome OS updates, it will update right along with it.
As we’ve talked about in the past, there is a dedicated web portal for developers interested in Chromebook development at chromeos.dev and if any of these topics are of interest to you, you can head over there and dive far deeper into them than we have here. Again, these updates are all things we’ve been tracking over the past 12 months or so here at Chrome Unboxed, but it is nice to see such a swift, tight, and informative presentation of them all in one place. Our hope is that more and more app developers become aware of all that Chrome OS is capable of and continue making great app experiences – web, Android, and Linux – for all of us that call Chrome OS our operating system of choice.