One of the advantages that Chromebooks — well, most Chromebooks — offer is the ability to run many of your favorite Android apps alongside Chrome OS windows. In fact, a lot of the more popular Android apps have been optimized for Chrome OS, so they will look perfectly at home on your Chromebook.
Google has a long list of the Chromebooks that can run Android apps, but it’s not difficult to check to see if yours is one of them by doing the following:
- Go to Settings
- Click on the “Apps” link on the left-hand menu
- In the main window, look for “Google Play Store.” (It should be near the top.) If it’s there and it invites you to “Install apps and games from Google Play on your Chromebook,” then you’re ready to go.
It is possible that your Chromebook is capable of running Android apps, but the feature has not yet been enabled. Not a problem — it’s very simple to fix.
- As before, go to “Settings” > “Apps” > “Google Play Store” (if you’re not there already). You will see a button to the right of the “Google Play Store” label that says “Turn on.” Click on that.
- Before you can do anything, you’ll get the usual terms of service document that you must scroll through and approve. Read it if you like, then approve it.
That’s it! Now all you have to do is look for the familiar Play Store logo in your Launcher, either by clicking on the Launcher icon in the lower-left corner of the screen or using the Launcher button on your keyboard just above the left Shift key. That will take you to the Play Store where you can search for and install your favorite Android apps on your Chromebook.
Android apps you’ve installed will also appear on the Launcher, just like any other Chrome OS app. For example, when I installed the Spotify Android app on a PixelBook, the Spotify icon appeared in the Launcher alongside all the previous apps.
Note: The first time you go to the Google Play Store, you may get a pop-up that asks you to “Complete account setup” by adding a payment option. Don’t panic. If you don’t want to add any kind of payment info, you don’t have to. Just hit “Skip.”
You can even select many of the same options for the Android apps that you would if they were on your phone. Click on “Manage Android preferences” (which is just above the “Google Play Store” link you were at before) to choose whether you want notifications, if Do Not Disturb should be activated, etc.
One warning: Android apps that have been optimized for use on a Chromebook — which means many of the most popular apps — will look and act like normal Chromebook apps. However, apps that have not been optimized will basically appear in a phone screen format, so they won’t be quite as usable — although they should, with possibly a few exceptions, still work.
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