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Is Android Bloatware Coming to Chromebooks?

New bug tracking support for pre-loaded Android apps on Chrome OS devices

bloat

The lean, clean Chromebook experience could soon be a thing of the past, as Google looks to add support for pre-loaded OEM apps on new Chrome OS devices.

Android phones and tablets from a raft of manufacturers are commonly bundled with pre-loaded applications that, to be polite, vary in their usefulness.

This type of unwanted software is colloquially known as “bloatware”.

Now makers of Chrome OS devices are going to get the chance to sell Chromebooks pre-loaded with Android apps.

‘Makers of Chrome OS devices are going to get the chance to sell Chromebooks pre-loaded with Android apps.’

Bloatware Is Coming to Chromebooks

Believe it or not, “bloatware” isn’t new to Chrome OS.

A bug on the Chromium issue tracker tracks the change, which is specifically for Arc apps (Arc is the internal name of Google’s ‘Android Runtime for Chrome’).

Chromebook manufacturers are already able to ship pre-installed web apps. As far as I can recall only the Samsung Chromebook 2, released 2014, has come equipped with “added value”.

The feature“implements support for default and OEM Arc apps,” and the apps are visible to the user even before they opt-in to the Google Play Store feature. Opening a pre-loaded Android app on a device that has yet to enable the feature launches the “opt-in” dialogs.

The good news is it will be possible to uninstall these pre-loaded apps (should they ever appear on a Chrome device).

The bug ticket tracking the feature is pretty explicit about this, saying: “User may remove these apps and default apps stay non vosible (sic) until explicitly installed again. OEM apps exists in app list OEM folder. Such apps required to be installed in vendor/system Android image or implement auto-install feature.”

It’s also perhaps unfair to call these (still theoretical) app additions bloatware. As our buddies at Android Central have explained in the past, there’s bloatware and then there’s bloatware.

With Chromebook sales staying relatively healthy and continuing to carve huge inroads into the lucrative US education sector might we see Microsoft paying a company like ASUS to ship Microsoft Office Android apps on a Chromebook?

Stranger things have happened!

For now the feature is yet to land, but we’ll be keeping an eye on the ticket, and the app launchers of new Chromebooks, over the next few months.

But if you boot up your next Chromebook to find an obscure cloud backup service and memory optimizer preinstalled, don’t act too surprised!

  • As long as they’re able to be hidden, it wouldn’t impact my decision to purchase.

  • 2017 is gonna be an interesting year for Chromebooks.

  • Sean Lumly

    I have a feeling that Chrome OS is going to disappear, and be consumed entirely by Android. Gone are Chrome Apps, and likely soon, a store pointing to web apps. Investments in developer tools for web apps of higher sophistication, or for ways to securely expose more hardware to the app will likely follow suit.

    Personally, I prefer the *idea* of apps as a service in most cases — the internet is a requirement for so many apps, it lowers maintenance, reduces the need to install, increases security, and provides a no-nonesense way to migrate/share environments between devices effortlessly. Sadly, that paradigm seems to no longer be pushed by Google, as Android installed apps will surely take precedence over web apps.

    Of course, it can be argued that there is much more functionality on the Android store, and with that argument, it can also be argued that Android has a much more mature and invested in eco-system for developers. I don’t feel that web apps have reached their full potential, often being explored as web sites — apps that have a very different feel from desktop/mobile applications. This quality could have been improved with best-practices guides, better developer tools, and championing apps that get it right. Sadly the Chrome Web Store (under the curatory control of Google) has been a bastion for links to badly implement sites, with a few examples of quality apps peppered throughout.

    I still think apps as a service is a FAR better strategy than apps installed and run locally. It’s a shame that the largest proponent seems to be reversing this agenda, and reverting to paradigms that have been in place since the dawn of the computer.

    Chrome OS will inherit a lot of new Android apps, true, but it will also likely lose the maintenance free, run-anywhere charm that is the cornerstone of the experience. We can look forward to managing files, and losing information should our devices fail, just as with any other computer. *sigh*

    • Joe Montfort

      Very well put.

      And kinda sad. “Sigh,” indeed.

  • Stefan van Aalst

    I’ll wait and see what android has in store for my C910. I do love the ChromeOs and chromebooks as they are: fast in (re)boot, updating, usage, reliable, very good multi-user for the device and a very good integration with Google Drive …that is my main work and collaboration space.

    Though some stuff is still a headache, page number and orphan protection of tables in Google Documents for one (for the latter I wrote an add-on to make it easier to split and merge tables with headers), the ease of use, real-time collaboration and scripting possibilities beat Microsoft Office by a long mile.

    Microsoft is making a nice comeback, but still no scripting and very limited functionality for webbased and ….as usual version issues when working with different versions not the least the problem of check-in/check-out that occurs …come on this is the 21st centuary.

  • Luke Taylor

    Pixel 3 please come soon.

  • Degru

    Nooooooo

    One of the biggest benefits of ChromeOS is the complete lack of bloat. OEM preinstalled apps would be horrible.

  • Jeff

    Adding android to chrome os is a mistake.

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  • The worst is that Google play do not have DELTA upgrades (I do not why being able to do that DNF and pacman and being both open source and able to be copied) and Chromebooks use the not so fast Wi Fi, (Ethernet with hardware add ons) by choice.

    Probably is not a bad idea to add Ethernet ports to this Android new models. My wired Android 6 TV box update apps like a charm, and not, by far, so fast my other only wifi android devices

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