Google’s Chromebook series of lightweight laptops have turned a corner in the past several months. Over a little more than the past year, Google has been steadily introducing Android app compatibility to Chrome OS, letting you install the Play Store, then seamlessly download and run apps just like you would on an Android device.
But there are caveats to this. Some of the more recent Chromebook models come pre-loaded with the Play Store, letting you get straight down to dabbling with Android apps, while other models will require you to update Chrome OS to a “beta” version, as the feature is still being tested, and many older models won’t receive the update at all.
So, before we proceed, take a look at this official list of Chromebooks that are in line to receive Android compatibility. If you’re on the “Stable Channel” or “Beta Channel,” then read on to see how to install Android apps on your device.
For Stable Channel Users
If your Chromebook is already compatible with Android apps, setting yourself up is fairly simple.
1. Click your account photo at the bottom-right corner of the Chrome OS desktop, then click the Settings cog icon.
2. Next, click the Settings three-lined icon at the top-left of the Settings window, then click “Google Play Store.” (Note that if you don’t see this option, then your laptop just isn’t compatible with Android apps!)
3. In the Google Play Store options, you should see the option to “Enable Google Play Store on your Chromebook.” Click this, then follow the instructions to install the Play Store.
The Play Store app should open automatically, and in the future you can open it by going to your Launcher (the circle icon at the bottom-left corner of Chrome OS).
For Beta Channel Users
To get Android apps through the Beta channel, check in that list we linked to earlier to be sure you can definitely get Android apps on the beta channel. Then you’ll need to get yourself onto said beta channel.
Note: be wary that the beta channel is inherently less stable than the stable channel and that we can’t account for any errors you may experience on it. If it doesn’t work out for you, you can always revert back to the stable channel.
1. To switch to the beta Chrome OS channel, click your account photo -> Settings -> Menu icon at the top-left.
2. At the bottom of the menu in the pane on the left, click “About Chrome OS,” then go to “Detailed build information” and click “Change Channel.”
3. Finally, click “Beta,” then reboot your Chromebook and let it update. (If you want to go back to the stable channel, just come back to this same screen and select the “Stable” option.)
4. Now, with your Chromebook updated, you just need to follow the same steps as the “Stable Channel” users (see previous heading), and you’re good to go!
The ability to install Android apps on Chromebook is a game-changer, and it looks like various Chromebook OEMs are working apace to get their devices up to speed with this great update.
Plenty of Android apps are far more intuitive to use than websites (particularly if you have a touchscreen), and you can even dig into the Play Store’s huge games collection to get it working on your Chromebook, though be aware that not all Android games will work perfectly on Chromebooks at this point.