Why did Android App usage on Chrome OS rise by 50% in 2021?

By - Dan Millward

Published -

Although Android apps were not available when the Chromebook was launched in 2011. They were introduced to Chrome OS in 2016 to the delight of users at the time. Google has recently announced Android app usage on Chromebooks in 2021 increased by 50%. This is great news but what caused this sudden increase in usage?

To get the answer you have to look back at when Android apps were originally launched for the Chromebook. At the time many of the Chromebooks that were currently on the market were not really up to handling these apps. Also, many of the Android apps at the time were created for phones and tablets.

Many Chromebooks were not compatible with Android apps in 2016

Most Chromebooks available in 2016 were simply not up to the job of running Android Apps. Many users would have owned Chromebooks that they had bought a couple of years earlier. This would have meant they simply did not have access to Android Apps.

For these users to use Android apps would mean buying a new Chromebook. You may get many people who regularly update their laptops every few years. You’ll also get many others who like to get the most out of the money they’ve spent on their laptop.

Users who did not buy a new laptop to use Android apps straight away. Would have still had a few years of updates from their old Chromebook before they needed to consider buying a new one. There would have been a huge number of people in this position.

Android apps

The causes of slow uptake of Android apps in 2016

  • Older Chromebooks were not compatible
  • Android apps were made for phones and tablets
  • Many Chromebooks that were compatible did not have a touchscreen

What has happened since to increase Android app usage

  • Many Chromebooks now come with a touchscreen
  • Android app developers now consider Chrome OS when creating their apps
  • Users of older Chromebooks have upgraded to newer models with Android app capability
  • Android apps on Chrome OS has attracted a new type of user

The causes of slow uptake of Android apps in 2016

  • Older Chromebooks were not compatible
  • Android apps were made for phones and tablets
  • Many Chromebooks that were compatible did not have a touchscreen

What has happened since to increase Android app usage

  • Many Chromebooks now come with a touchscreen
  • Android app developers now consider Chrome OS when creating their apps
  • Users of older Chromebooks have upgraded to newer models with Android app capability
  • Android apps on Chrome OS has attracted a new type of user

Chromebooks and the apps needed to change

Something else that I remember at the time was that Chromebooks in general were simply not up to the job. We need to remember that until Android apps were launched for Chrome OS. Developers were aiming these apps to phone and tablet users, which meant you needed to have a touchscreen.

If you had a Chromebook without a touchscreen you could still use some apps, but the experience was not the same. Considering there were very few Chromebooks at the time, which came with a touchscreen. Is another reason why Android app usage was low at the beginning.

Pacman Android App on Chrome OS
Chrome OS now informs you if an Android app isn’t made for a Chromebook

The way Android apps were developed would have also caused a slow uptake of Android apps. Many of the apps in 2016 opened on your Chromebook as if you were using a phone. You were launching Android apps on your 14-inch laptop, and the app was only utilising the centre of the screen in the shape of a phone. Personally speaking, this really put me off using many of the apps back in 2016.

Many new Chromebooks come with a touchscreen

Since the launch of Android apps, we saw a big change in many Chromebooks released after that date. Instead of most devices offering a laptop-only solution. We now had a much wider choice of devices that offered 2-in-1 functionality.

Hybrid Chromebooks with 2-in-1 functionality were a great option for anyone who wanted to use Android apps. They removed the issue of not being able to use some apps unless you had a touchscreen.

New Android apps were coded with Chrome OS in mind

When you look at Android apps today compared to what they were like in 2016. I’m always pretty shocked by the huge advances developers have made. Android apps are much more enjoyable to use on a Chromebook than they once were.

Even if you did not have a touchscreen, the apps were now being designed with Chromebooks in mind. I still feel you need a touchscreen to get the best experience from your Chromebook. However, It’s true that there are many apps available that work great on a Chromebook without a touchscreen, as you can get everything done with your mousepad and keyboard. Which may have you thinking whether a Chromebook without a touchscreen is worth buying.

Android apps has attracted new users to Chrome OS

This is one of the things that I’m most happy about. Android apps will have definitely contributed to attracting new users to Chrome OS. This makes complete sense when you consider how many Android phones users there are around the world.

If you already own an Android phone or tablet and regularly use Android Apps. Having the ability to use these same apps on a laptop is going to attract new users. The ability to use the same apps on different platforms is a great way of attracting more users.

Summary

It’s really good to see that Android app usage on Chrome OS has increased by 50% in 2021. There are many factors why we’ve seen this sudden increase, and it shows Google made the right move making Android apps compatible with the Chromebook.

It’s also great news for Android app users because it means developers will be more willing to work with the platform. If developers are aware that Android apps are being used more thanks to Chrome OS. They will be more likely to put more resources into Android apps when developing them.

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