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Canary version of Chrome OS can run split-screen Android apps

A very early development version of Chrome OS features the ability to run split-screen Android apps. A wide rollout could come soon.

Published onFebruary 20, 2018

  • A proof-of-concept video hit the net depicting a Chromebook running split-screen Android apps.
  • The Chromebook used to perform the split-screen feature was running a Canary version of the OS, the earliest in the development cycle.
  • This means the feature could rollout in a stable OS version in the next few months.

There are four development levels when it comes to Chrome OS: Stable, Beta, Developer, and Canary. Stable is obviously the official roll-out version, and then things get progressively more buggy and experimental the further you go down. Canary is the first rung, the level where the future features of Chrome OS are tested out in all their buggy, half-developed glory.

Video footage hit the internet over the weekend of one of these early Canary Chrome OS versions running Android apps in split-screen mode. Now that the concept has been proven, we can expect the feature to roll out in a stable Chrome OS update, probably Chrome OS version 66 (although version 65 indeed is possible). We actually heard reports about this happening a few weeks ago, and it looks like those rumors proved to be true.

You can see the video below of a Samsung Chromebook Pro running the Google Play Store and the Voice Recorder app, both of which are native Android apps:

Further along in the video, the presenter Robby Payne also runs the Google Play Store side-by-side with the Chrome browser. Since the Chrome browser in Chrome OS is a native app (not an Android app), the video proves that you can split-screen Android apps with Chrome OS apps, too.

Observations on Chrome OS, Android apps, and Google's ecosystem

Granted, both apps will have to be split-screen-compatible. Some Android apps do not have this feature, so they wouldn’t work. However, the video does not give an example of what kind of error would present if you were to attempt to split-screen an app that didn’t support it.

In the video, the presenter says that we should see the split-screen Android app feature arrive in the summer, which would once again most likely be Chrome OS version 66.

With Chromebooks running Android apps and now featuring split-screen abilities, the line continues to blur between what is an Android device and what is a Chrome OS device. In the future, Chromebooks will increasingly feature a tablet mode either via a 360-hinge or fully-detachable screen, and the line will continue to blur even more.

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