While the ability to run Android apps on Chrome OS continues to roll out, the question for many is when or if it will be updated. The answer is yes and pretty soon. This week while attending Google Cloud Next in San Francisco, I posed the question to Chrome OS product management in a breakout session and it was confirmed that Android Nougat will be coming to the platform build 58 or 59. Given that it is already in the beta channel, I suspect that it is likely 58.
As readers may know, Android Framework in Chrome OS currently is based on Android Marshmallow. So, in theory, if an app will run in Marshmallow, it will run on Chrome. The tricky bit has been that some apps can’t go full screen in 6.0 and features like multi-window support for apps is not something that is supported at all in Marshmallow. All of that changes under 7.0 obviously as the framework allows for it.
The other big challenge with Marshmallow is that you can only run one app at a time, somewhat related to the multi-window aspect. In other words, if you are running an Android app on your Chromebook and switch focus to another app, the first app quits running on the backend. So things like sync don’t work. That would change in a Nougat framework.
When I asked Google about this, they confirmed that Nougat is coming to Chrome OS in the 58 or 59 train. That’s good because 58 is in the Beta Channel and 59 is in the Developer channel. So, at best, we are likely 6 weeks away and at worst, 12 weeks.
Perhaps the better news in all of this, the Chrome team also confirmed that they want to accelerate support in the future of Android so when Android O is released later this year, we could see widespread support of it much faster than we have Nougat.