Chrome , And Your App

Yesterday, Acer officially announced the first Chrome OS tablet,
the Acer Chromebook Tab 10. As with all newer Chrome OS , the Chromebook Tab 10
will run apps… perhaps including yours.

Many Android developers have been avoiding Chrome OS, arguing that it is a fairly
fringe audience. And it is true that Android-capable Chrome OS devices make up
perhaps 1% of the Android device ecosystem. However, by default, your app ships
to Chrome OS devices, and blocking such distribution is not necessarily
straightforward. Hence, you really need to consider adding Chrome OS to the
lineup of test environments that you exercise your app on, as while Android
on Chrome OS is a remarkable achievement, things are a bit different than what
you may be used to. If Google makes a renewed tablet push
using Chrome OS, the percentage of Chrome OS devices may climb a fair bit.

Some Android developers who embraced Chrome OS may have been thinking that
keyboards were always part of the Chrome OS experience. This tablet indicates
otherwise.

That’s why, on the whole, it is best not to think of particular devices, but rather
particular features:

  • Supporting keyboards is not a Chrome OS thing, as keyboards have been an option
    before (Pixel C, various Bluetooth keyboards)

  • Supporting freeform multi-window is not a Chrome OS thing, as we also see them
    with Samsung DeX (and perhaps future environments)

  • Assumptions that you might make regarding available hardware, such as GPS or
    rear-facing cameras, are not tied to Chrome OS, but could vary on any sort
    of device

In these cases, while a Chrome OS device is a great testbed for how your app
handles such things, you are not supporting Chrome OS by handling keyboards and
such — you are supporting Android, and Chrome OS happens to be an environment
for testing that support.

It remains to be seen whether Chrome OS will jump-start the tablet form factor with
respect to Android. However, this is another sign that Chrome OS is here to stay,
and Android developers really need to take it into account, since your app may
be running on Chrome OS devices right now.


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