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We asked developers what they think about Android apps on Chrome OS

Derek Walter | June 17, 2016
While bringing the Play Store to Chromebooks presents a lot of opportunity, in some ways it means heading back to the drawing board.

“The rise in Chromebooks is astounding, if not wholly unexpected.  In 2012, 1 percent of educational devices were Chromebooks. This year, they are over 50 percent. This fact, coupled with Android apps’ move to Chrome OS, means there’s a new generation of people who are growing up with an increasingly blurred sense of what is ‘desktop’ vs. ‘mobile’ computing,” she said. “Obviously, this will extend to their app usage as well (think increased expectations for versatility, and a more seamless transition between devices in workflow), and that will open up a whole new playing field for traditionally mobile app developers.” 

Another challenge, especially for smaller teams, is where to focus their efforts. Polarr, for example, makes a solid Chrome web app that lets you edit photos on a Chromebook. But soon you’ll be able to pick the company’s Android app for the same purpose. Which one do you go with?

According to Paddie, this requires making good interface choices looking at monetization opportunities, since the Chrome Web Store just hasn’t taken off as a way for developers to make money.

“You have Android apps that have been optimized for a small screen size and touch. Developers will have to be careful to balance the needs of mouse and touch-based optimization (also taking into account the new generation of hybrid touchscreen Chromebooks), and reconfigure their UI, to avoid drowning in the new increased screen space. Although there are challenges, I also see greater incentive for development in the new opportunities for monetization provided by the merger. Right now, the concept of ‘paid app’ doesn’t really exist within the ecosystem of the Chrome Web Store. That is part of the reason that store has been so neglected. However, bringing the model of paid apps and free apps with in-app purchases will reward developers for their time and development costs, and should bring with it a new wave of development.”

Yasmine Evjen

Many developers love to hear about getting their apps out to a wider audience, especially Yasmine Evjen, a UX designer with Software Ops. She’s excited about the education opportunity.

“Right now a lot of the education apps are mostly on iPad, when I’ve talked to people and I’ve said ‘why did you guys use iOS vs an Android tablet or a Chromebook?’ One of the things I keep hearing is there aren’t enough apps, all the apps are on the iPad. Allowing Android apps to run on Chrome OS is going to open a bigger market for education.”

yasmineevjen 2
Yasmine Evjen 

Evjen also sees a parallel to work in web design, which for years has shifted towards responsive design. This concept is that sites should work across all screen sizes, from large desktop to smartphones.


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