Google’s plan to bring Android to Chrome OS is moving forward.
The company on Monday confirmed that “all Chromebooks launching in 2017 and after” will support Android apps “in the coming future.”
Those new Chromebooks will join the three models that officially support the Google Play Store today — the Asus Chromebook Flip. Acer Chromebook R11, and Google’s own Chromebook Pixel (2015) — along with a large number of older notebooks that have been scheduled to gain support for the past few months.
Google first announced that it was bringing apps from its mobile platform to its desktop platform last May, so there’s been some delay in making the feature available en masse. It had previously said that the aforementioned spate of older Chromebooks would receive Play Store support by the end of 2016.
Things seem to be progressing now, though. Before the note on Monday, Google partnered with Samsung at this month’s CES to announce two new Chromebooks that will support the beta version of the Play Store out of the box.
Kan Liu, Google’s senior director of product management, told Business Insider at the time that more “larger-screen, productivity-focused, Android-type devices” would be announced by the Mobile World Congress show in February, so it’s likely that similar notebooks will arrive soon.
It’s unclear if Google’s note on Monday means that all future Chromebooks will support the Play Store out of the box or if that support will be limited to a beta version. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Early implementations of Android apps on Chromebooks have faced technical issues and interface inconsistencies, but the feature could eventually make up for many of Chrome OS’s largest shortcomings.
As it stands now, many Chromebooks provide fast hardware at affordable prices, but are largely limited when not connected to the internet. Many Android apps are made to work offline, however, and the most recent “Nougat” update added a number of features to help those apps play nicer with larger displays. Adding Play Store support brings a large library of games to Chrome OS, too.
It’s a patchwork solution, but the result, in theory, could be more substantial competition for low-cost Windows laptops, which are often marred by slow performance and flimsy hardware.
Right now, Chromebooks have been a hit in the education sector, but have seen less adoption among consumers. Pushing greater harmony with Android apps — and encouraging flashier 2-in-1 devices, like the new Samsung models, that are built to run them — is Google’s stab at addressing that.
Today’s confirmation isn’t a surprise, but it suggests that attempt is about to begin in earnest.
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