What web? Chromebooks get their first Android apps


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The convergence of Chrome OS and Android is now seriously underway, with Google bringing the first Android apps to Chromebooks.

Only four apps are available for now, but Google says it's working with “a select group” of developers to offer more Android apps in the coming months. The first batch includes:

  • Vine, the Twitter-owned social network for short videos
  • Evernote, a popular note-taking service
  • Duolingo, a language learning app
  • Sight Words, a reading program for children

From the user's perspective, there's no clear indication that these are Android apps when downloading them from the Chrome Web Store or opening them from the app launcher. However, the apps themselves look exactly like their smartphone and tablet counterparts, and will work without an Internet connection. Google is also taking a page from Windows 8 by letting users snap portrait mode apps to one side, allowing another window to run maximized on the rest of the screen.

Taking the web offline

This is actually Google's second attempt to bring desktop-like applications to Chrome OS. Last year, the company launched “Chrome Apps,” which used Web technologies such as HTML5 and Javascript but had greater capabilities, such as offline support, desktop notifications and USB peripheral support. But that effort hasn't gained much traction, as it's been largely ignored by major developers.

Bringing Android apps to Chrome may be a better strategy. Google told Ars Technica that developers don't need to port or modify their code, though they can choose to make improvements to take better advantage of Chromebook touchpads and keyboards.

The only danger here is that these apps create more fragmented experience from Chrome for Windows and Mac, neither of which support Android apps. But if Google can bet more major developers on board, it'll only get harder to dismiss Chromebooks as little more than a Web browser.

This story, "What web? Chromebooks get their first Android apps" was originally published by PCWorld.

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