Google looks set to blur the lines between its two operating systems, Android and Chrome OS. The search giant might now be finally bringing its millions of Android apps on to the Chrome OS giving latter the access to Google Play.
As spotted by a Reddit user, Chromebooks running the Chrome OS version 51 is now showing a small checkbox under its Settings menu that says “Enable Android apps to run on your Chromebook,” alongside a popup that says, “Google Play store now on your Chromebook. Choose from over a million apps and games on Google Play to install and use on your Chromebook.” Although the option disappears quickly, the Chrome OS version’s source code hints that using Android apps might soon become a whole lot easier for the platform’s users.
Chrome OS v51 for now is restricted to the Developer Channel only. Those who have enabled the option say it shows a tutorial before closing automatically. We will probably get to know more at the upcoming Google I/O conference next month.
Google started making Android apps available for Chrome OS a couple of years ago at Google I/O 2014, starting with Vine, Evernote, and Duolingo. These apps came as a limited trial but later saw a wider rollout in 2015 with the launch of ARC (App Runtime for Chrome).
An “ARC opt in” option is also visible in the Chrome OS source code mentioned above, hinting it to be a gateway for millions of apps from Google Play to pour in the Chromebook and Chrome OS-based desktops, reports Ars Technica.
This move by Google is something that will be welcomed by Chrome OS users across the globe, as they will get access to a bigger app store with streamlined updates. The two operating systems will remain standalone however, with Google reiterating last year that Chrome OS was “here to stay.” Microsoft on the other hand is working hard on merging its mobile and desktop platforms, while Apple is on the other extreme, with CEO Tim Cook saying the company has no plans to merge iOS and OS X.
Google last week announced that its Chrome OS will be the first to adopt the Material Design revamp. According to Sebastien Gabriel, Senior Designer at Google, the project took a year and involved “redesigning Chrome core UI from the ground up for all desktop platforms.” He said the team has now completely removed the 1200 png assets to entirely render it programmatically.
Some of the changes in the revamped Chrome OS include a new default theme, overhaul in Incognito theme with a new dark colour, revamp of tab shapes, icons, and omnibox to match mobile, Material Design ripples and morphing buttons states introduction, new colour with more accessible colour scheme, along with new info bars and buttons. The details can be found in a dedicated blog post.