A new commit in the Chrome OS Gerrit suggests that Android P framework testing is already underway for the platform. This could allow for P support to roll out at the same time or very close the release of the update for phones later this year.
As readers may know, Android apps in Chrome OS run in Android Framework, which was updated to Nougat last December in Chrome 61 but, interestingly, the Oreo framework never rolled out. The reason for the skip isn’t clear but it could have simply been focus shifting to get as many Chromebook builds updated to run Android in general. The number of Chromebooks supporting Android apps has significantly increased over the course of the last year, in particular the last four months.
The framework is what allows Android apps to run in Chrome OS and for developers, gives them a standard API level across Android devices and Chromebooks so their apps will run on both and with the same feature sets.
Whatever the reason, it would appear that the focus now is on Android P. The commit points to Android Pi (P) container builds being tested, suggesting that the framework focus has moved away from Oreo entirely. This makes sense given that we are about 6 months away from P being released and it will take that long for the level of testing required for this to happen in Chrome OS.
So what does this mean as far as timelines are concerned? Playing pretend for a minute and assuming that all testing goes smoothly and the plan is to roll out Android P framework support in Chrome OS this year, we are looking at either Chrome 70 (October 23rd slated release) or Chrome 71 (December 11th) before we will see it. But take that with a grain of salt. There is a lot of testing and things that can go sideways so it could well push into 2019. The positive takeaway here is that the team is working on it.