Google Pushes Chrome OS to Developers

Posted on May 7, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Chrome OS, Chromebook, Cloud, Dev, Linux with 41 Comments

Chrome OS and the Chromebooks on which it runs have matured greatly in recent years as usage has soared. And now the platform is sophisticated enough for web and Android developers, the firm says.

“At I/O this year, we showed web and Android developers a few of the most exciting improvements that have made Chrome OS an even faster, simpler, and more secure environment than ever,” Google’s Allan Livingston writes. “The combination of Linux and Chrome OS makes for a great web development environment — and we’re making the process even easier for Android development.”

As Livingston notes, Google added Linux app support to Chrome OS last year, and this support is now available on over half of all Chromebooks in the market. Furthermore, every Chrome OS device launched this year will be Linux-compatible. That compatibility is key to Chromebook’s suitability to developers. And recent additions to Chrome OS are helping put the platform over the top.

Here are a few that Google is highlighting:

Android Studio one-click installation and integrated debugging. Installing Google’s IDE for Android app development used to be time-consuming and complex. But now you can just download it, click, and install.

Secure USB support for Android phones. This feature lets you develop, debug, and push apps created with Android Studio to Android phones on any Android developer-recommended Chromebook.

File sharing. The Chrome OS file manager now supports sharing files between Linux, Android, and Chrome OS, and with Google Drive as well.

Port forwarding. Improvements to port forwarding in Chrome OS make it easier to connect networking services between Linux and Chrome OS. For example, you can run a web server within the Linux container while debugging on the same machine.

Google also provided a little bit of market data to help developers understand the market opportunity here. According to NPD, over 21 percent of laptops sold in the fourth quarter of 2018 were Chromebooks, a gain of 23 percent year-over-year. Meanwhile, the number of monthly active users who enabled Android apps on Chrome OS has grown by 250 percent.

“When you’re building on and for Chrome OS, you’re on a streamlined path to reaching a massive and fast-growing audience of engaged users,” Livingston notes. “Whether they’re building apps with larger screens in mind from the start or optimizing old apps to reach new users, developers behind some of the most popular mobile apps and games have already seen incredible results from Chromebook users.”

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