Google re­veals why apps aren’t on Chrome­books

The prob­lem with An­droid apps? The win­dows.

Android Advisor - - Contents - IAN PAUL re­ports

Ev­ery time we open a Chrome­book and see that an up­date is avail­able, we get a twinge of ex­cite­ment. Is this the mo­ment that my Asus Chrome­book will fi­nally get An­droid apps? So far, the an­swer has been no, and it doesn’t look like that will change any­time soon. Google didn’t have much to say about the state of An­droid on Chrome OS dur­ing its an­nual Google I/O con­fer­ence. But the firm did run a ded­i­cated I/O ses­sion aimed at teach­ing devel­op­ers how to tar­get their apps for Chrome­books and larger screen de­vices.

The big take­away from the ses­sion is that Google is grap­pling with the same is­sues we’ve been hear­ing about for months. At the open­ing, Google showed some of its own apps, in­clud­ing Google Maps and Hang­outs, that aren’t yet tuned for large screen de­vices. The big is­sues that An­droid apps need to deal with dur­ing the mi­gra­tion to Chrome­books are sup­port for wider screens; in­clud­ing a land­scape mode in ad­di­tion to por­trait; al­low­ing for ad­just­ing an app’s win­dow size; and tweak­ing in­put ap­proaches to suit a lap­top with a key­board and mouse.

The is­sues aren’t just af­fect­ing Chrome­books ei­ther. Google said these op­ti­miza­tions can im­prove the ex­pe­ri­ence on An­droid-based lap­tops, as well as newer An­droid phones that have a desk­top mode like Sam­sung’s Galaxy S8. Even if an app is lack­ing some of these tweaks, they can still work well. The wider­screen is­sue, for ex­am­ple, makes some apps look odd. The im­age above is of Google Maps’ ex­plore fea­ture. All the con­tent is in the mid­dle of a screen, while the menu is stretched out across the en­tire dis­play. Sim­i­larly, not hav­ing a land­scape mode just means that an app feels cramped on a lap­top, but it’s still us­able.

The big­ger is­sue is win­dow re­siz­ing. Some older apps be­come un­sta­ble when you try to re­size them on a lap­top, be­cause they weren’t meant to do any­thing but dis­play on a phone or tablet. To con­front the win­dow-re­siz­ing is­sue, Google’s baked sev­eral tools in its new­est Chrome OS win­dow man­ager. The sys­tem scans apps to see which ‘era’ of An­droid they were built for. If the app is not den­sity-aware, for ex­am­ple, the app will al­ways dis­play in a max­i­mized win­dow.

Pre-An­droid N apps, mean­while, will switch be­tween a full-screen view and a fixed win­dow size. For An­droid N and later, most apps are freely re­siz­able, thanks to the win­dow­ing fea­tures built into An­droid 7.1. That said, some apps may not use the re­siz­able fea­ture, in which case they would fill the screen.

The im­pact on you at home Un­for­tu­nately, this still doesn’t an­swer the ques­tion of when all those older Chrome­books slated for An­droid sup­port will get it. Cur­rently there are just six Chrome OS de­vices that sup­port An­droid apps in the stable chan­nel. Two are in beta, and more than 80 are ‘planned’ to get An­droid apps in the fu­ture, ac­cord­ing to Google’s Chromium site. Hope­fully, this will all be sorted out by the au­tumn, but at this point there’s re­ally no point in pre­dict­ing when the great An­droid app revo­lu­tion will hap­pen on Chrome OS.

Google Maps run­ning on a Chrome­book

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.