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article imageChromebooks to get millions of new apps from Android's Play Store

By James Walker     Apr 25, 2016 in Technology
Google currently maintains two distinct operating systems, Android and Chrome OS. The company may be planning to tie the two together more closely than ever before though, letting the millions of Android apps run natively on Chromebook PCs.
Proof for the as-yet unannounced launch of the Play Store on Chrome OS comes from a screenshot on Reddit. User TheWiseYoda reports seeing a new option in a recent development version of Chrome OS titled "Enable Android apps to run on your Chromebook."
When enabled, a tutorial wizard briefly appears with the heading "Google Play store now on your Chromebook." It then immediately closes itself and the option disappears from settings. It doesn't appear to be fully implemented yet and cannot be used to run full Android apps.
Other Reddit users quickly verified the existence of the hidden setting. A line discovered in the source for Chrome OS includes a message with the text "Choose from over a million apps and games on Google Play to install and use on your Chromebook." If that isn't enough to confirm the feature is coming, the message is tagged "Description of the opt-in dialog for Android apps."
Screenshot indicating support for Android apps is coming to Chrome OS
Screenshot indicating support for Android apps is coming to Chrome OS
InauspiciousPagan / Imgur / Reddit
Chrome OS already supports running Android apps in some scenarios. There is an Android runtime inside it, the App Runtime for Chrome, that lets specially ported Android apps run on Chrome OS. It appears as though Google is ready to dramatically expand the program though, bringing the Play Store to Chrome OS and letting users pick from the millions of available apps.
Chrome OS' own store, the Chrome Web Store, has never seen much success. Many of its apps are less fully featured than their alternatives on other platforms, including Android, and others are just simple Chrome plugins and extensions.
The Chrome Web Store is available in just 36 countries, compared with 136 for the Play Store. Bringing the Play Store to Chrome OS would give Chromebook owners a larger choice of richer apps and make the platform more accessible across the world.
Last year, it was widely reported that Google may be planning to merge Android and Chrome OS together. The Wall Street Journal cited anonymous insider sources as saying Android and Chrome OS would be folded together by the end of 2017. No conclusive evidence has emerged to support or contradict the claim to date.
The company has denied it plans to merge the two but moves such as Android apps on Chrome OS indicate increasing convergence between the platforms. Google seems to be creating a unified storefront at least and it is possible more elements will be shared between the two operating systems in the future.
Google hasn't commented on the discovery of Android apps running on Chrome OS. It is likely to officially unveil the feature at its I/O developers conference next month though, exposing Chromebooks to millions of new apps.
More about Google, Chromebook, chrome os, Android, play store
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