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Google Play Store Arrives on the ASUS Chromebook Flip

Image credit francois beaufort

The Flip is the first to get Android apps

Access to the Google Play Store, and a world of  Android Apps, has begun rolling out to the ASUS Chromebook Flip.

The latest developer channel release of Chrome OS for the 10.1-inch convertible includes support for the Google Play Store.

If you have ASUS Chromebook Flip and want to join the fun you can easily switch to the developer channel.

This does have drawbacks: switching will scrub your device of files, etc and start afresh. Bugs and crashes should be expected on the developer channel. You trade stability for an early look at new features as they’re being developed.

After switching to dev you need to opt-in to Android apps access via Settings > Enable Android Apps to run on your Chromebook. 

How Well Does It Work So Far?

Early reports from social media users playing with Android apps on their flip is positive. The Play Store can be opened and browsed as usual, and you can sign-in with your Google account to install apps.

Not every app on the store is listed as compatible, and some don’t work as intended. The Play Store also treats Chromebooks as an Android 6.x tablet meaning apps only designed for phones are not available (e.g., Instagram), while some tablet apps have orientation issues (e.g., Snapchat) but others work much better than they did under the old ARC implementation (e.g., Skype,  Flipboard, and bunch of others).

‘Not every app on the store works as intended’

You can’t resize app windows (though some apps can have their orientation changed), and you can’t cycle through Android apps using the ALT+Tab shortcut.

Power management differences between Chrome OS and the Android runtime currently ‘pauses’ apps when you switch focus away from them (i.e. video stops playing, music stops playing, and so on).

See this Reddit thread for more on the feature, and check in to this mega thread if you have it and want to share which apps work/don’t work.

Schedules

‘the feature is only rolling out to a small number of devices’

Chrome OS 53 is the milestone that is, currently, set to bring Android apps to Chromebooks. The initial feature roll out targets a small number of Chromebooks.

But as the feature is widely tested, feedback gathered, and the feature improved it will begin to hit more devices through the developer channel. Once things are running well enough it will be added to stable builds, where all supported Chromebooks, boxes, bases and bits can take advantage of it.

Is your ASUS Chromebook Flip on the dev channel? Let us know your experience of using Android apps in the comments gap below. 

  • b Tommy Douglas

    The Play Store works well on my Flip in laptop mode. In tablet mode there are some orientation issues but this is a good start. This will be a game changer for chromebooks IMHO.

    • Bluegrapes

      I hope this can increase Chrome OS’s popularity and increase it’s desktop share! I also hope I can get the play store on my chromebook by the fall and not by 2017.

      • Mehmed

        Another problem of chromebooks are the low specs.
        The Samsung Chromebook 1 and 3 (one at the end of 2012, the other in the beginning of 2016) have the same specs, 11,6 inch hd+, 2 gigs of ram.

        We really need high end ARM (Exynos M1, Cortex A72, Cortex A73) or high end Intel Atom (Apollo Lake) in these Chromebooks. I would also love a 12-12,5 Inch FullHD Display.
        Bigger than 11,6 but smaller than 13,3.

        • Bluegrapes

          The samsung chromebook 1 and 3 doesn’t have the same specs. The samsung 1 has a ARM processor which is probably really slow by today’s standards and the samsung chromebook 3 has a intel celeron Atom processor.

          I find that Chrome OS runs fine on low end hardware. My chromebook has the same Rockchip CPU as the flip in this article and 2gb of ram and it runs pretty well to me. I’m also able to have over 20 tabs open at the same time which running a chroot which I know I wouldn’t be able to do If it ran windows.

        • calden74

          There are already plenty of newer ChromeBooks with great specs, with a lot more on the horizon. I for one will definitely be buying the new Ways Flip 2, which should be released very soon.

  • White Dragon

    Well… I hope this will get better, much better. I understand that this is only for testing, but at the moment it is very far from perfect.

    I thought they said this whole thing will be something new, not the failed ARC thing… Then why do I see processes running with the name ARC whatever. Every of them named like that. And most disturbingly the few app I tried have the same problems that I encountered when I tried the old ARC runtime.

    Skype, when I call someone, while it it’s still ringing, you cannot focus on another window or minimize Skype, because it hangs up right away.

    VLC, cannot maximize the window when the movie already running, because it will restart the movie.

    These are just two examples, but my point is that these problems were the exact same before this. So how does this any improvement?

    Ok, I tried Gmail and it worked. Only small hiccups… Like when I opened a PDF attachment, it froze…

    utorrent works fine

    One sad thing is that none of the app I tried could access my external SD card, in fact, none even see it.

    Of course I know this is not the final product, and hopefully these problems will be solved. I just have the terrible feeling that some of these stubbornly going to stay. The fact that Skype and VLC gives me the exact same problems makes me a bit skeptical about this whole thing.

    I’m still happy and very excited about the Play Store coming to my Asus Flip. Let’s hope our dreams will come true.

    • It’s a ground-up rewrite of ARC that uses Linux Containers instead of NaCl. Still in early stages, however, and in the case of compatibility issues ― just report them.

      • White Dragon

        Ha, ha… That’s a good one. If one thing I have learnt over the years, is that “reporting” something to Google is as effective as Don Quixote’s fight against the windmill. If they can, and most importantly “want to” fix it, then yes. If not, forget about it. There are ridiculous things, features, etc missing or misbehaving in some Google products, people asking, begging to fix those or get around them without much success. I seriously doubt it that Google really cares about us.

        Don’t get me wrong, I know that nothing is prefect and from the three main rivals (Microsoft, Apple, and Google) I choose Google on any day. I use their stuff and enjoy many free services from them. Generally speaking I’m a happy Google user, and most likely stay with them on the future. All I’m saying is that they are not much better when it comes to listening the people.

      • ChrisGX

        I don’t think that is a technically correct description. It is rather that Android itself, i.e. all the libraries and ART runtime, less the Linux kernel, is running as a complex application using the Linux containers facility. The approach is more akin to how users have been running Ubuntu in a chroot environment on Chrome OS, although containers makes all of this much simpler and safer. Neither ARC nor NaCl are involved in this approach, as far as I can see.

        It is not hard to see that ARC has been downgraded. The question is whether it can survive this downgrading?

  • norcal64

    Working pretty well on my CB Flip. So far the most exciting thing for me is Sling TV, which works perfectly and goes full screen!

    • Does the Chromecast button also show up in the app if running on the Flip?

      • norcal64

        I just tried it. The Chromecast button does not show up in the app itself, but since I have the Cast extension installed on my Chromebook, I can go down to the clock menu and select to cast it from there. Video was a little choppy.

        Now that I think about it, that button probably only shows if you install the Google Chomrecast Android app.

  • Apps that are only designed for phones ― is it possible to sideload them like it is into the ARC implelentation? Instagram in particular has worked flawlessly when sideloaded even in ARC, so it likely will work flawlessly in this case as well.

    • Nathan Martin

      I believe that you can no longer sideload with ARC.

      • Just because you believe that you can’t doesn’t mean you absolutely can’t (personal incredulity fallacy) at this point ― need an expert to do some digging and answer.

        • Nathan Martin

          Fair enough, but Instagram APKs 7.22.0—8.3.0 are all failing to load for me.

    • person

      Supposedly you can sideload apps via a file browser app but I don’t know whether phone only apps will work.

  • Waethorn

    Anybody try any 3D games on the Flip? It seems that it has the lowest-end hardware of any Chrome OS device available (it’s an ARM chip) so I’d be curious to know how more demanding apps run on one of those models. Is it similar performance to any Android phone, which all run on ARM? The only videos so far were done on a Chromebook Pixel AFAIK, so that doesn’t really represent the performance that most users will get, given that most Chromebooks have much lower-end processors and GPU’s in them.

  • HarryWarden

    As an owner of the 2015 Pixel LS, can’t wait for this. Odd that Pixel wasn’t the first to get it actually.

    • RMP

      Not odd at all. Hybrid Android apps behave as they would on a tablet. Only the Asus Flip can be used as a tablet.

      • calden74

        The Pixel has a touch screen as well, I don’t see your point. How about the Lenovo Yoga ChromeBook, that’s also a tablet. It has nothing to do with the Asus Flip being a tablet, Asus simply volunteered their hardware and users to be beta testers and the Pixel just had to few users to get any real feed back.

        • RMP

          Of the 3 that were included, only the Asus Flip can be used as a tablet. It isn’t just the touch screen: It folds completely flat into a tablet, has a 10-inch screen just like many tablets, and is light enough to be used as a tablet. It also easily has the largest market of these 3. These are merely solid, logical reasons why the Flip wasn’t an “odd” in contrast to the Pixel. Your defiance seems odd though.

          • calden74

            It’s not defiance, by the way Acer Flip and Lenovo Yoga ChromeBook will also be getting support and their will be a lot more convertible’s released soon.

          • RMP

            Great! The more the merrier. The Acer R 11 folds and is currently being tested. So far, 11.6″ seems to be the maximum screen size being sold for Chromebooks that can fold flat or tent.

        • Jesse Afolabi

          I own the Chromebook yoga, do you think it’d be supported?

        • MAS Googler

          Pixel is also a premium device, and this is alpha testing. Maybe they didn’t want alpha software to potentially ruin a premium device experience for people who don’t know what they are doing

          • calden74

            The Play Store is available for the Pixel as well, so I guess not.

          • MAS Googler

            The pixel has the alpha version of Android on Chrome OS, that targets the latest kernel?

          • calden74

            Yes, it was just released.

  • r4in

    “You can’t resize app windows (though some apps can have their orientation changed), and you can’t cycle through Android apps using the ALT+Tab shortcut.

    Power management differences between Chrome OS and the Android runtime currently ‘pauses’ apps when you switch focus away from them (i.e. video stops playing, music stops playing, and so on).”

    Pretty messy so far.

    • yowlingcat

      It’s called alpha – the whole point is that it is messy and then gets better.

  • Marcel Karas

    If i use a “Google Apps for Work” Domain on the chromebook, how can i allow the using of “Android Apps”. We doesn’t find the right switch on the admin console.

    • yowlingcat

      No – that won’t apparently come until it is at least in beta. You need to use your consumer account if you want to get Android.

      • Marcel Karas

        thx. it works on consumer account.

  • yowlingcat

    I just tried out Android on my Flip – I don’t really use Android for serious gaming, it is a work tool for me. So I was delighted to find that Word and TextMaker worked well – Word doesn’t link with Dropbox and flashed an ugly message saying Chrome OS lacked some sort of API to accomplish this.

    Then I thought: what is the future of Chrome OS? I mean, if I just switch to using Word for Android but on a Chromebook, what is the point of Google’s own apps? Where are they going? What is the point of a Chromebook if you just run cut-down Android versions of desktop apps on the thing? Where has the original aim of producing a Cloud enabled device gone?

    This will be an interesting year to see what Google makes of it.

    • Andrew Gryaznov

      They’ve already announced “Android Instant Apps” so I believe the idea is that as Android becomes more cloud-dependent it will be not much of a difference from a chromebook. I have the opposite point: why do you need apps if they are in the cloud? Why not make good touch-friendly web standards and just completely shut down apps? What is the point of interpreting Java when you are already interpreting Javascript and JS is so much more ubique?

      • MAS Googler

        Because getting web developers to produce quality web apps that work as native has been failing, that’s why.

        Yet, the option is there for devs who will.

    • calden74

      Uhm, why aren’t you just using Microsoft’s Cloud version of Office, same feature set. Save Android for things you cant get on Chrome OS, like games, which is about it as everything else is available in the cloud, everything.

      • yowlingcat

        It’s not the same feature set at all – in particular, the web version is lacking Track Changes, which is essential for the work I do.

    • MAS Googler

      Chrome boots fast, is more secure, and offers a more desktop friendly UI. Android apps are just a bonus for when more than a web app is needed. It’s purpose isn’t killed, because a full on Android desktop is a sub par experience compared to chrome OS

  • Feio

    C72O users give a fu-ck for Google and install a Windows in your chromebook

  • Byron Montgomerie

    So far so good, older games work well, rip tide 1 will, rip tide 2, not so much.

    Working: Sentinel. Sprinkle, pool break pro, bards tale, another world, jelly defense, apparatus.
    Not Working: World of Goo.
    Working but odd screen size: Flick Golf

    MINECRAFT! My son’s favourite obsession now plays on this arm based Chromebook.

    Issues:
    lack of accellerometer support (rip tide obviously)
    rotation breaking and hanging android apps, (checking for the device screen size is likely only done once in the code, a virtual device screen that changes likely wasn’t thought of).
    The flip’s keyboard mode has screen size issues, but these mostly go away in tent or tablet mode. Minecraft’s buttons are partially off screen for example.
    Taskbar is always present at the start of fullscreen, it can be dragged down out of view though, but your fingers might hit it accidently.

    So, my son, being 5, would likely crash and burn quite a bit and complain about his Minecraft until these are addressed. But it’s a Dev beta, so that’s OK..

    Sandbox issues, I am guessing that eventually there will be a solution, or I will lean how to share storage between Chromeos and android apps. MXPlayer pro runs, didn’t even complain about hardware acceleration, but I don’t want to move video files around, or use google drive as an in between. Doing that hacky windows share deal is OK for me, but not so much for a 5 year old.

    For my purposes, a family setting, having another device for my son to use because the battery has gone on his tablet, my phone, and my wife’s phone, is a plus, I might get my phone back one day.:)

    • Eduardo Pelaez

      I’m glad to hear Minecraft is working. FYI, that game has keyboard support (you can map actions on your keyboard through the settings!).

      Is there a consistent reason that certain apps don’t work?

      • Byron Montgomerie

        It’s either differences in the API (it’s running what it says is android 6.01), lack of proper tablet support, or lack of hardware support I would think. You might have a half-hearted check for one hardware feature, but with all your target market guaranteeing it exists, not a log of testing of it missing, or you have assumptions about if X exists Y must also exist. Hard to tell without a lot more testing of what works and doesn’t work anyway in tablet mode, vs this new scenario, I’d had to ask my son. :) Games working or not, could be anything, it has gles 1.1 and 3.1. Older games are likely more debugged than newer ones at this point, covering more corner cases. That would be my guess.

        My 5 year old can’t read, it’s amazing he does as well as he does with it. As for keyboard shortcuts, he knows more about that than I do, lol, I did notice the arrow keys work in keyboard mode, but like I said the screen is zoomed in and also the touch coordinates are off.

  • Mahriya

    How do i actually get google play on the chromebook? I’ve got Asus Chromebook Flip

    • Byron Montgomerie

      Quick Version: In the browser menu (3 vertical dots), select help and then about Chrome OS, click “more info” to expand the selection to see an option called “change channel”, you want the “developer-unstable” channel. Once that is done, if the about screen doesn’t show version 53, do an update. After rebooting use the browser settings screen and there will be an section at the bottom called “Android Apps” enable that and restart again, The magnifying glass icon on the left of the bottom bar will show your existing chrome apps and now Android ones like Google Play / Music / Movies etc. You can pin Google play to the bar at the bottom if you right click on it..

    • Josh Owen

      Switch to developer channel. Go to settings. At the top (next to search) you will see “about Chrome OS”. Click that. Click “more info”, and then click “change channel.” It should then download and install the update (there may be a restart required for it to switch, I don’t remember. If so, after the restart, go back to the “about Chrome OS” page and click “Check for and apply updates.” Your Chromebook should automatically do this, but I’d you don’t want to wait for it, click the button).

      When it restarts after ye update,on your lock screen in the top right, it will tell you which version you are running (it also says this on the “about Chrome OS” page). If it says version 53.blahblahblah, when you log in, the Play Store should be added to your dock at the bottom and into your app tray.

  • Josh Owen

    So far I’m loving this new feature. I’m not gonna lie, I was thinking of giving up my Chromebook before this announcement, finding that my windows computer did more and did it better. But now that my flip has the entirety of the Play Store to utilize, my PC is collecting dust and my iPad has been reduced to a portable Hulu player.

    I know it is early days, and this is the developer channel, so any bugs are more than forgivable, and issues that I’ve read about, including not being about to resize the windows and whatnot I know be fixed as app developers start adding in support for a desktop environment.

    Chromebooks are already outselling Macs, and with this series upgrade, Windows PC’s might be doomed…

    My personal favorite so far is being able to have the Google Docs app. I’ve had many issues with the in-browser version (which is why I kept going back to Windows), as the in-browser version couldn’t handle the length of certain documents, and the offline mode consistently had issues. But I’ve always loved Docs for the instant save, a feature Microsoft can’t seem to get right. I had gone back to an iPad to get the better app version of Docs, but now I get the best of both worlds, the browser and app versions on the same device!

    • Ernie Beckley

      “I’m not gonna lie, I was thinking of giving up my Chromebook before this announcement, finding that my windows computer did more and did it better.”

      I was of the same mind until the announcement was made.

  • Jasper Edwards

    Gmail, YouTube, Google Spaces, Google Photos, Microsoft Word & Excell, Foursquare, Facebook Messenger and OMG Chrome all work well in Chrome OS. Among these are others I’m still trying out.

  • ChrisGX

    Has anyone done a check of the kernel version of the updated OS yet? Chrome OS v53 dev either will continue the current practice of avoiding kernel updates on Chromebooks, i.e. sticking with the kernel the device shipped with and backporting changes made by Linux kernel developers on current and testing mainline kernels by means of customised updates to selective older kernel versions on Chromebooks out there, or will require a complete kernel update in a shift away from the current practice. I see no significant negatives in shifting away from the current practice which, in my view, only slows and complicates the development of Chrome OS, underutilizes Chromebook hardware and puts the brakes on the full reintegration of Chrome OS into Linux mainline, which I would welcome.

    To check the OS version just type “chrome://system” into the address bar of a browser window and wait until the System diagnostic data is returned. Then search for “uname” on the page. If something like “Linux localhost 3.14.0” or “Linux localhost 3.18.0” is displayed Google will be sticking with the current practice but if something like “Linux localhost 4.4.0” appears Google will have altered its practice and, if I am right, we will be all the better for it.

  • wilton merritt

    I am happy to have more video options on my CB Flip with Android. I’ve been running Kodi,Singbox for Android and the Xfinity TV app. I’ve only had a few crashes so I’m looking forward to improvements down the line.

    • Wess Minear

      On my ASUS flip, I’m having a hard time getting videos to play (kodi) , I get sound, but no video. What am I doing wrong.

      • wilton merritt

        It seem the update gives,and the update takes away. Mine was working fine until a week or so .

      • wilton merritt

        I,m going to have to do some digging and will post if Iget mine working again. Please do so aswell

      • wilton merritt

        go into the system settings. then video and uncheck Hardware acceleration. it should fixit. it worked for me

        • Wess Minear

          Thank you, that was it, I appreciate your help.

  • Since LXC is already being used to run Android apps on Chromebooks, why not also use it to develop them?

  • Sage Anderson

    So you can move like you would on a computer version?
    How are you sure of this?, do you know any other apps that are as well? like roblox?

  • JWells

    I own a Chromebook (wife is primary user) and an ASUS Chromebox that has not been ID’d to get the Play Store and Android app capability. After careful examination of the Android apps I use on my phone and Nexus 7 tablet, there really isn’t anything for me to gain, of any significance, by upgrading to be able to run Android apps on my desktop/laptop Chromebook/box. I suppose the appeal is primarily to Android gamers, of which I am not (only a couple of card games to fight off boredom). I already am happy with how I can use MS Office docs, PDFs, and video/photo files across all my devices with Google Drive as my file server. So “Android Apps For Chromebook” is no big deal for me.

  • MAS Googler

    No. Average People shouldn’t need to install custom OS’s, Roms, custom work arounds, etc to accomplish things that are commonplace in usability on other devices & OS’s. The average user wants something that works out of the box, plug & play, with a nice streamlined interface & practical usability.

    If a device doesn’t offer what the user needs in an easy readily usable fashion, it’s not the users fault……It is the device & softwarea fault.

  • Stefan K. Søndergaard

    Now is is working on the beta channel. For me apps are not really a game changer. And I hate the ugly marks on the icons. They should be on the android app icons instead.

  • JC

    Bluetooth issues anyone? I tried a 2 gb model, returned and have a 4 gb model. Poor bluetooth range on both (5 ghz Wifi freq is most compatible with BT stream in my experience). If I leave 12 feet from the Flip, BT speaker skips and cuts out (both Bose and UE Boom).

  • feren CEO

    Yay, now Chromebook users can play Geometry Dash, Lite, Full and Meltdown on Chrome OS alongside many other games!

  • The bad news – after buying this thing for my niece to play MInecraft, the “owners” of Minecraft (you know who you are) have now declared it “incompatible” and it can no longer be downloaded from play store onto a flip. Argh! I did discover a nice “Survival Craft” clone which plays nicely….

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