Chrome OS

There's new evidence that Google is preparing a way to allow all of the Android apps in the Google Play Store to run on its Chrome OS as well, and that method may be used to allow those apps to run on Windows as well.

Android app Chrome

As our sister site Android Central reported, a Reddit user spotted a reference for allowing Android apps on the Chrome developer channel over the weekend. Another Reddit member posted a screenshot of a dialog box, shown above that strongly indicated that Google may be getting ready to offer Chrome OS users access to the Google Play Store and its many Android apps.

The method for this move is likely the Android Runtime for Chrome (ARC), which launched a year ago and allowed Android developers to port their apps to Chrome OS. However, as Android Central pointed out:

Right now, the Android Runtime for Chrome includes a rudimentary version of Play Services that allows Cloud Messaging, Google sign-in, a contacts provider and OATH2 support, as long as the developer does a few extra steps to set things up through the Google Developer console. For full access to the Google Play Store, this restriction would have to be lifted. This would mean a full version of Play Services either built into Chrome or a bigger and better ARC module. Either of these two things could happen, but it would take Google building it and distributing it for it to actually work.

Our own Jason Ward also pointed out the difficulties in merging Android and Chrome OS in a recent editorial. Paul Thurrott at points out that ARC could also allow those Android apps to run on Windows as well, via a Chrome sandbox called Native Client (NaCL). However, it remains to be seen if Google will officially launch that kind of support. There's the issue of having Android apps run on a bigger screen, as they don't tend to scale very well.

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Microsoft and Google are fighting the same problem but from different starting points. Microsoft has a lock on the PC and at tablets but no mobile game, whereas Google has their mobile strategy locked in but no clear path to the desktop. Will ARC be enough to compete with UWP or just a band-aid for a larger problem?

Google is scheduled to hold its developer conference, I/O 2016, in mid-May. It's possible we will learn more about their Android-Chrome OS plans, and possibly their Windows plans, at that time.