Some time ago, Google decided to give up on Android and focus on Chrome OS as the main operating system for more traditional computing form factors. Since that time, we’ve seen Chrome OS ship on Chromebooks, Chromeboxes, and the like. It seems that the engineers at Google changed their minds and decided to Androidify their second operating system by allowing it to run Android apps.
This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as Google first mentioned this possibility back at Google I/O in late June. Now, Google has made good on that concept by launching an app called App Runtime for Chrome, which currently is at the beta stage. Google didn’t decide to pack the full Play Store into every Chromebook. Their strategy is to manually bring certain applications into Chrom eOS world through Chrome Web Store.
As for now, the list of applications isn’t too long. Here’s the full set of apps:
Duolingo – a fun and free way to learn a new language before your next trip
Evernote – write, collect and find what matters to you, with a full-size keyboard and touchscreen
Sight Words – a delightful way for you to help improve your child’s reading skills
Vine – create short, beautiful, looping videos in a simple and fun way
The folks at Ars Technica managed to get some details from Google’s spokesperson about the technical side of the project.
The app code is all running on top of the Chrome platform, specifically inside of Native Client. In this way the ARC (Android Runtime for Chrome) apps run in the same environment as other apps you can download from the Chrome Web Store, even though they are written on top of standard Android APIs. The developers do not need to port or modify their code, though they often choose to improve it to work well with the Chromebook form factor (keyboard, touchpad, optional touchscreen, etc).
No porting is required to make these applications work. This gives us the assumption that Google put its efforts to build a virtual machine that runs Android apps and now we are seeing fruits of their hard work. It leads us to another question, though: Is Google planning to dump Chrome OS and replace it with Android–or perhaps merge the two into a single platform? For now, only time will tell.
May 16, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
Android KitKat for the Droid Razr HD and Razr M has been released! That and much more news is covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is the announcement that Google Glass is now available to the public and that KitKat finally arrives on the Verizon Galaxy Note 3! That’s not all that’s covered in today’s video!
Jordan talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer TK released an Xposed Tuesday video for RAM Usage & Play Store Link. Then, TK showed us how to root the Oppo Find 7a. Finally, TK gave us a an Android App Review of Sky Weather. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
February 10, 2014 By: Tomek Kondrat
ADB and Fastboot are invaluable tools for almost every Android user. Without them, flashing a kernel or system image would be much more difficult or even impossible. If you are an experienced user, you can download the Android SDK, click few times, add ADB and Fastboot to $PATH and happily torture your device with latest ROMs and kernels without worry that one small mistake will result as a plastic brick.
If you are a Linux, ChromeOS, or Mac user, you may find a tool made by XDA Forum Member corbin052198 very useful. The Nexus Tools script automatically detects your OS, and then downloads and configures almost everything you need to use ADB on your machine. The only missing thing is a udev list, which makes the device “visible” for debugging, but this can be easily fixed by visiting this thread.
The script runs as root, so don’t be surprised when it asks for sudo and copies all necessary files to usr/bin, which makes them available system-wide. ChromeOS support is experimental and may not work as intended, so please keep that in mind.
If you are planning to set up your PC to work with Android devices, Nexus Tools is a perfect choice. All you need to do is visit the original thread to give it a go.
January 29, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Back in September of last year, the Chrome team made Chrome apps a little bit more powerful. Rather than just being glorified web-apps, September’s update allowed Chrome apps to work offline, function outside of distracting tabs and text boxes, receive desktop notifications, interact with connected peripherals, and launch directly from your computer like any other application. One way of thinking about this could be that the update brought many elements of Chrome OS (including the Chrome App Launcher) to Windows PCs. And essentially what this meant was that Chrome apps were going to start being treated (and acting like) first class applications already on your computer.
At present, many of the core Chrome APIs are available to Chrome Apps running on mobile. These include features like OAuth2 sign-in, mobile payments (alpha), push messaging, file system and storage access, alarms, TCP and UDP socket support, Android notification support, and power controls. Obviously, many more APIs are in the works, including Bluetooth, USB, hardware info, permissions, and much more.
So what does all of this mean? It’s simple, really. This new breed of mobile apps will enable an entirely new class of developer to create applications that look and function just like the apps you’re already using. To end users, this means that more interesting and groundbreaking ideas that would otherwise be relegated to the web will be translated to actual Android application releases. And for developers, it means a lower cost of entry into application development on Android and iOS. Yes, native code will always have its place—particularly when a high level of performance is paramount. But this level of performance is not always required, and an easier point of entry may allow us to see the next simple utility that ultimately changes how we all use our devices.
Developers looking to get a preview of what’s to come should first hit up the project workflow on GitHub, and then get stet started by installing the dev tools, creating a project, and going from there using either command line or an IDE such as Eclipse. Your work in progress project can then be built and even uploaded to the Play Store if you so desire. And if you’d rather look at sample projects rather than diving into code just yet, head over to the sample apps section.
While this may seem like an incremental change–and in many ways it is–the future potential is exciting. And in a way, this can be seen as the first small step towards the further unification of the Chrome and Android platforms. Once you’ve gotten your feet wet with the dev links above, head over to our App Development forums and share your experiences. Also, don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments below!