I think it’s time we stopped calling them ‘Android apps’, and stop treating them that way too

Launched in October 2008, the Android Marketplace was the first version of the store that allowed Android users to download and install apps and games on their phones. In 2012, Google renamed it and completely revamped it to become the Google Play Store. Since then, these apps have been installed in cars, watches, refrigerators and yes, even on Chromebooks. Although this is the case, we still call them ‘Android apps’ – why? Yes, I know that in each of these cases, they are still installed within the Android framework, but I think they have outgrown that designation and may continue to mature if we change our perception of it going forward. Let me explain.

Google has been trying to gear developers up for a few years now, hoping to start producing their programs for larger screens. In particular, they wanted to optimize for Chromebooks, and even gave them a roadmap to do so when they launched their ChromeOS.dev resources.

The fact that they did not beg to make full-screen experiences with background processes, mouse and keyboard support and more, they received little fruit in return for their labor. Why is the nearly 1.85 million apps in the Google Play Store limited to our phones and tablets when it’s as much as possible? You could argue that this is simply because they were built for them alone, but I do not agree. I think they can and should scale down to maturity and become increasingly usable outside of their original intended ecosystem. I’ve talked to a lot of app developers and they seem to think the problem is twofold.

First, they say that their Chromebook user base is not large enough to dedicate a team to optimizing their applications for Google’s laptops (although in many cases they just do not track these statistics just because they are not familiar with Chromebooks). Secondly, they told me that they did not feel that Google had given them enough incentive to take apps they created years ago for phones and tablets and completely rework them for Chromebooks.

If this is true, I can see why there is little improvement in programs that feel like it belongs on a laptop. Yes, most apps “work” on Chromebooks, and all apps that have a tablet mode that can rotate in landscape orientation will fill the Chromebooks screen, but it’s far from a true laptop experience Icons, text, and other visual elements remain chunky and oddly placed for fingers instead of mice, which causes problems and I can only play five Google Play games that I know of with a game controller – it’s depressing.

I think developers should take it more seriously, but maybe it’s cyclical – maybe if we stop calling them ‘Android apps’ – and thus maintain the stigma that goes with them – showing genuine interest in optimizing these “Google Play App” experiences for our Chromebooks, developers might be able to see need to act. Maybe when we see more developers taking the opportunity to optimize their apps for Chromebooks, users would start asking more often or even begging to do so. Are we stuck in a never-ending loop? I want to encourage you to contact your favorite developer using your Play Store list email address to let them know you want to use their apps on your Chromebook!

If you’re a developer and you’re reading this, you may know that developers who benefit from creating greater screen experiences are seeing tremendous growth in their user base. For example, Gameloft, the creator of the Asphalt 8 racing game, earned 9x more revenue by optimizing for Chrome OS – which is appealing. In addition, Pixonic, the creator of the popular War Robots game, increased their engagement with Chrome OS by 25% by applying some optimizations. Games like Roblox have long adopted and still do Chromebooks. There’s actually a whole news section that keeps Google up to date on chromeos.dev where they blog about these success stories, so it’s clear they have the idea to bring Google Play Apps along for the ride, as Chrome’s operating system is still huge see growth problems. year over year.

It’s true that progressive web apps (PWAs) are gaining ground and we’re all excited about it, but I believe Google Play apps will stay on our devices for years to come – at least in some form. For example, when Android R finally arrives on Chrome OS, Google could very well try to control the situation to some extent itself. By using Google Play apps on a separate virtual machine, just like Crostini, called ARCVM, they can have a little more control over how it looks and works on Chromebooks, providing a more streamlined and consistent experience. We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but we’ll keep you posted as we learn more.

All this to say that it’s a bad service to keep apps in our phones and tablets when they can be so much more, but what do you think? Is it just a matter of syntax that “Android apps” are starting to be called “Google Play apps” and are being treated so much more? Is it important for you to change their perception or do you stick to web applications? Do you believe they can and should exist as Chrome OS evolves and ages?

I may sound slacker, but I still think it’s an important conversation to have, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. I’m tired of recommending apps and games to Chromebook owners to feel ashamed of not having full, or even partial, mouse, keyboard, or gamepad support. I’m tired of opening an app to determine that it’s in portrait mode with black boxes to the left and right of it, just to hear someone look at what the basic Chrome OS is and say that it’s just ‘ is a great Android tablet. I’m tired of thick display elements and ugly versioning issues. If you’re an app developer, tell me: is Google doing enough to encourage you to optimize for Chrome OS, or is there another major roadblock? I’m really interested to hear your side of the story!

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