Is Google Planning to Unleash Millions of Android Apps on Windows?

Rafia Shaikh
Posted Apr 25, 2016
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Several different reports and new evidence show that Google may be preparing to bring millions of its Android apps to Chrome OS. We saw a few reports over the weekend claiming that Google could soon allow Android apps to run on Chrome OS. Is Google adopting Microsoft’s strategy of offering universal apps? Would this finally make Chrome OS relevant to mainstream users? Many questions were asked. However, what’s even more interesting in this development is the possibility of these Android apps to be run on Windows operating system.

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android apps on windows

The Google I/O developers conference is starting in May, where we would be hearing more about the company bringing the power of Android apps to Chrome OS. However, we already have plenty of evidence that points to Google finally bringing the ability to run Android apps on Chrome OS. The company introduced App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) over a year ago as a bridge for developers to port their apps to Chrome. This project brought in a select developers to port a few Android apps, but we never heard more of it.

Choose from over a million apps and games on Google Play to install and use on your Chromebook.

With several users spotting references in the Chrome OS developer channel for Android apps and a screenshot of a dialogue box (above) that announces the launch of the Google Play Store on Chromebook, gives away Google’s plans. Chromebook users have reported that they have seen an Enable Android apps to run on your Chromebook notification on their screens. Since not everyone will be excited to try mobile apps on the desktop, the feature remains a checkbox choice in the settings instead of a default addition. ArsTechnica reports that while administrators will be able to lock the apps, users only have to check the box to play whatever Android games they wish to play on bigger screens.

Administrators will be able to lock down the settings app and stop users from enabling the feature. This way security-focused shops can guarantee a barebones Chrome OS build without exposing themselves to all the extra vulnerabilities and surface area of Android app compatibility. Regular consumers, on the other hand, would have only a checkbox standing between them and a copy of Flappy Bird.

Millions of Android apps on Windows

Providing full access to the Google Play Store on Chrome through ARC, the project could also be used to allow millions of Android apps to run on Windows (and OS X) as well. Through a Chrome sandbox known as Native Client (NaCL), Windows users could be offered to run Android apps at a near native speed, taking full advantage of a system’s CPU and GPU. While Apple is yet to even start thinking about offering universal apps, Google will be able to get even more revenue from other operating systems. This way, unlike Microsoft’s UWP, Android apps will not be restricted to Google’s ecosystem only.
android apps on windows

Do note that while we have seen checkboxes and screenshots of Android apps coming to Chrome OS, there is no such evidence of Google preparing to unleash millions of its mobile apps to Windows and other OSes. It definitely seems to be an exciting (malware) possibility, something that Microsoft probably won’t approve of.

We’ll have to wait for Google’s I/O conference 2016 in May to hear more about Google’s plans of introducing Android apps to more platforms.

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