Android, ChromeOS, and the future of app discovery

    Android and ChromeOS. ChromeOS and Android. Has there ever been a extra enigmatic and question-creating couple within the mobile-tech universe?From the get-go, Google’s two main platforms have been the topic of limitless scorn and hypothesis. Folks who do not truly use a Chromebook and have not skilled ChromeOS since its earliest days have lengthy been satisfied that the platform serves no sensible objective and is destined for demise. For ages, the favored narrative revolved across the notion that Google was gonna someway “merge” the 2 right into a single consolidated entity.The actual story, after all, turned out to be far more nuanced. For years now, Google’s been slowly however certainly bringing its two platforms collectively and aligning them to make ’em extra linked, constant, and appropriate. The aim, it appears, is much less of a binary, one-or-the-other form of determination and extra of a best-of-both-worlds, dual-pronged path.And now, it seems that street is about to take a noteworthy new flip — one that might severely shake up a core a part of the person expertise on each side of the Android-ChromeOS equation.It all comes right down to apps and the way we uncover ’em. And if some latest indicators on Android and ChromeOS alike are any indication, issues are about to get fascinating.The ChromeOS app challengeOur story begins on the ChromeOS aspect of the mobile-tech divide. In the land o’ Chromebooks, for anybody paying consideration, the query has shifted over time from a snide “What can you even do on those things?” to a much more intriguing “What can’t you do on ’em?” To wit: Chromebooks in the present day supply a full-fledged desktop-caliber net searching atmosphere. They allow you to set up progressive net apps, Android apps, Linux apps, and even Windows apps, for those who actually wish to get wild. You can use ’em as laptops, tablets, or something in between. ChromeOS might have began out being about sheer simplicity as a defining function, nevertheless it’s very a lot accomplished a 180 and remodeled itself into the “everything” platform.In observe, that is confirmed to be each a blessing and a curse. Chromebooks in the present day are extremely succesful, as anybody who truly makes use of ’em can let you know, and so they supply loads of enticing benefits over extra conventional desktop setups. But on the identical time, all these potentialities have made it nearly unattainable to know the place to start and what sort of app to hunt out for what objective. For one instance, for those who needed to make use of the duty administration app Todoist on a Chromebook, you may:
    Open the Todoist web site (or create a shortcut to that web site in your desktop)
    Install the Todoist progressive net app from the Todoist web site
    Install the Todoist Android app from the Google Play Store
    Install the Todoist Chrome extension from the Chrome Web Store
    Install the Todoist Linux app from the Linux Snap Store
    Install the Todoist Windows app from the Todoist web site (supplied you have received a company-connected Chromebook with Windows entry out there)
    Head spinning but? Mine positive is. It’s a ridiculous labyrinth for normal customers to sort out, and even of us who won’t explicitly notice all these choices exist usually discover themselves dealing with vexing limitations after they set up an app sort that is not totally optimum for his or her supposed objective.Two years in the past, I first reported on clues that exposed a slowly shaping-up technique for fixing this flaw — what I referred to on the time as Google’s “grand ChromeOS plan.” The concept was virtually painfully easy: Google would place the Play Store as not only a place for Android apps, because it’s historically been, however as a broader one-stop store for a number of forms of apps on Chromebooks — with the shop itself figuring out which app sort makes essentially the most sense for any given objective after which mechanically putting in the suitable possibility for you.We noticed early indicators of that plan popping up on Chromebooks round that point, and Google later confirmed to me in an interview that it was certainly engaged on such an effort. The aim, two ChromeOS execs instructed me, was to show the Play Store into an all-purpose discovery device the place Chromebook house owners might discover no matter apps they wanted — together with even Linux apps, in sure circumstances — with out having to consider the underlying expertise. Many months have handed since that unassuming begin. But this summer time, we’re seeing some tantalizing indicators of progress that might propel the plan ahead and lay the groundwork for a way more intuitive app-discovering expertise on ChromeOS — and, the massive twist: additionally on Android.The Android-ChromeOS app connectionSo right here it’s: You’d be forgiven for failing to note, however within the ChromeOS 104 replace that rolled out earlier this month, Google quietly added within the skill to search out apps within the Play Store just by looking out in your Chromebook’s launcher — the freshly redesigned window that pops up while you faucet your Chromebook’s Everything button (often known as the Search or Launcher key).One faucet, and increase: You can discover after which set up any app you want proper there within the precise working system, with out having to determine which supply is suitable after which open up and search by means of that particular storefront. JRSimple. Streamlined. Consolidated. It’s such a smart change, the one baffling factor is why it is taken this lengthy for it to occur. To be certain, the work right here is way from completed. The Play Store itself nonetheless wants to truly assist and floor all these completely different app varieties intelligently, in a means that is smart for the Chromebook atmosphere. (As of now, that occurs solely with a really restricted set of particular applications.) But now, at the very least, the muse is coming into focus — and the thought of ChromeOS itself changing into the app discovery mechanism and eliminating the necessity to work together with any particular app retailer is beginning to take form.Now for the actually intriguing half: In Android 13 on its self-made Pixel telephones, Google can be now experimenting with surfacing app outcomes from the Play Store as a part of the first house display screen search system — as soon as once more from proper inside the precise working system. It’s the identical primary idea, in different phrases, solely translated into Android phrases. And it, too, has the potential to result in a good broader rethinking of what the Play Store represents and what an “Android app” even is.When I first wrote about Google’s grand ChromeOS plan, I ended with a little bit of an speculative “what if?”-style state of affairs. Go, go, Gadget Quoting Machine:
    Consider this: Google’s been experimenting with the thought of progressive net apps on Android for some time now. The firm already makes it doable for builders to embed such applications inside conventional Android app buildings after which put these into the Play Store. How far of a leap would it not be to start out providing up standalone progressive net apps straight rather than Android apps for telephones, too, in circumstances the place that’d be optimum?
    I’ll let you know this: I’ve some standalone progressive net apps by myself cellphone, and … they’re surprisingly nice to make use of — in a means that nearly makes you overlook you are not utilizing a daily, native Android app. Just sayin’.
    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.Once once more, fascinating issues are taking place on the intersection of Google’s two main platforms. And now, the inspiration is flowing freely in each instructions — from Android to ChromeOS and from ChromeOS again to Android.The solely actual query is how lengthy it will take for this newest piece of the puzzle to fall into place — and the way lengthy it will take for the Android- and Chromebook-carrying lots to adapt to a complete new mind-set about apps.Want much more Googley information? Sign up for my free weekly e-newsletter to get three issues to know and three issues to attempt in your inbox each Friday.

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