Google Makes It Easier to Write Android Apps on Chrome OS

Posted on August 12, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Chrome OS, Chromebook, Dev, Mobile with 2 Comments

Thanks to native emulator support, it’s possible for the first time to completely develop Android apps using just a Chromebook. Additionally, Google has launched a new web-based resource for developers using Chromebooks.

“To deliver app experiences that truly improve people’s lives, developers must be equipped with the right tools, resources, and best practices,” Google’s Iein Valdez announced. “That’s why we’re excited to introduce ChromeOS.dev, a dedicated resource for technical developers, designers, product managers, and business leaders.”

ChromeOS.dev is available in English and Spanish, and Google says that other languages are coming soon. It features the news, product announcements, technical documentation, and code samples from popular apps. “Whether you’re a web, Android, or Linux developer who’s just getting started or a certified expert, you’ll find all the information you need on ChromeOS.dev,” Valdez said.

To me, however, the other Chrome OS-related developer announcements are a bigger deal. These include:

Linux Terminal improvements. The Linux (Beta) on Chrome OS Terminal now provides personalization features like integrated tabs and shortcuts, themes, and a redesigned Settings interface.

Full Android emulator support. Supported Chromebooks can now run a full version of the Android Emulator for the first time. This lets developers test apps on any Android version and device without needing the actual hardware.

Direct app deployment. This is perhaps the best reason to develop Android apps on Chrome OS: You can deploy your apps directly to Chrome OS. That’s pretty amazing.

Android Studio Project Wizard improvements. The Primary/Detail Activity template in Android Studio has been updated to provide complete support for larger screens, including Chromebooks, tablets, and foldables, multiple layouts for both phones and larger-screen devices, and better keyboard/mouse scaffolding.  (This feature debuts in Android Studio 4.2 Canary 8.)

Android lint check improvements. Google has improved the default checks in Android’s lint tool to help developers identify and correct common coding issues that can improve how apps work on larger screens with non-resizable and portrait-locked activities. (This feature is currently available for testing in Canary channel.)

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