Looking to try out Chrome and Android apps on a single machine? You're in luck.
Apple iOS loyalists contemplating a switch to Google’s app ecosystem this year will have an easier time making a decision, thanks to Google’s announcement that every new Chromebook launched in 2017 will be able to run apps designed for Android smartphones and tablets.
That means you can try out Android and Chrome apps on a single machine, often (but not always) one that’s priced considerably lower than an entry-level Windows laptop. Google’s announcement, spotted on Monday by TechCrunch, marks the end of a beta period that Android fans have watched with eager anticipation.
Currently, only three Chromebooks can run Android apps: Asus’s Chromebook Flip ($249.00 at Amazon) and Acer’s Chromebook R11 ($397.00 at Amazon) , and Google’s own Chromebook Pixel ( at Amazon) . In addition to expanding that list to all Chromebooks launching this year, Google will also make the feature available on more than 60 existing models from Dell, Toshiba, Samsung, Asus, Acer, and other manufacturers. You can check out the full list on the Chromium project website.
“While we won’t be able to bring Android apps to every Chromebook ever made, we’re continuing to evaluate more devices based on a range of factors, like processor type, GPU, and drivers,” the Chromium team wrote.
To install Android apps, you’ll need to sign into the Google Play store on one of the supported machines running Chrome OS 53 or later. Not all Android apps are optimized for Chrome, although Google is encouraging developers to do so.
Recommended by Our Editors
Chromebooks have been a worthwhile alternative to Windows or Mac laptops for many education, government, and enterprise users, but their software offerings are comparatively limited. Adding support for the vast number of Android apps will likely broaden Chrome’s appeal among consumers shopping for a cheap notebook.
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Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more.
Chromebooks can now download and install Android apps from Google Play, and it works pretty well. But not every Android app is available in Google Play. Some apps are available from outside Google Play as APK files, and you can install them on your Chromebook with a bit of extra work.
This will only work if your Chromebook has Google Play and Android app support. At the time of this writing, that means you need an ASUS Chromebook Flip on the dev channel, with Android apps enabled.
Step One: Put Your Chromebook Into Developer Mode
If you’re used to Android, you know that you need to enable the “Unknown Sources” option to install apps that aren’t available in Google Play. However, this option is hidden and not normally available on Chrome OS.
To access this option, you’ll need to put your Chromebook into developer mode (which is different than being on Chrome’s dev channel–you need to do both to sideload Android APKs). This is the same switch you need to flip if you wanted to install a more traditional Linux desktop–like Ubuntu–alongside Chrome OS. Follow our guide to putting your Chromebook into developer mode to disable OS verification.
Note that this will wipe your Chromebook’s storage, so you’ll have to set it up from scratch afterwards. However, practically everything on Chrome OS is synced online anyway, so that shouldn’t take too long.
Developer mode also means you’ll see a scary warning screen every time you boot, and you’ll have to press Ctrl+D to skip it. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any getting around this limitation. Perhaps Google will lift this limit in the future and allow sideloading APKs without disabling the OS verification feature.
Step Two: Enable Unknown Sources
You’ll now need to enable apps from “Unknown Sources” on the Android settings screen on your Chromebook. To access it, open the Chrome OS settings screen and click the “App Settings” link under Android Apps.
Android’s Settings screen will open in a window on your Chromebook. Click or tap the “Security” option.
Enable the “Unknown Sources” option under Device Administration. You’ll see a warning telling you to be careful about what you download and install.
If you don’t see the Unknown Sources option here, your Chromebook isn’t in developer mode. This option only appears here when your Chromebook is in developer mode, so try going through Step One again.
Step Three: Install the APK File
Now you can install an app from an APK file. First, download the APK file to your Chromebook and save it in your Downloads folder.
You might expect that you can simply double-click or load an APK file from Chrome’s Files application, but that doesn’t work. You’ll just see an error messaging saying “This file type is not supported.”
You’ll need an Android file management app to install APKs. Launch Google Play and install a file management app. We like Solid Explorer, but there are many other options. (For some reason, Android’s built-in file manager app won’t let you open and install APK files.)
Launch the file manager app you downloaded, enter your “Download” folder, and open the APK file. Select the “Package Installer” app and you’ll be prompted to install the APK, just as you would on a Chromebook.
Apps you install from APK files will work just like an Android app you download from Google Play, gaining their own windows, launcher shortcuts, and taskbar icons.
As on an actual Android smartphone or tablet, you should be careful which apps you sideload in APK form. There are malicious apps out there, and sideloading a pirated app or game is a common way to get Android malware. Only download and install apps from sources you trust.
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Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek.
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The Chrome operating system has long supported Android apps. However, the choice of apps has been limited to apps in the Play Store. In other words, it means that installing apps from APK files is not allowed. Although one could install APK files via developer mode, it has limitations. Now there is a way to overcome this issue and sideload Android APKs on a Chromebook without developer mode.
How to sideload Android APKs on Chromebook?
Google introduced Android APK sideloading for developers to test their Android apps on Chromebooks without adding them to the Play Store. However, it was allowed only in developer mode. Using developer mode to sideload Android APKs on Chromebooks means wiping the device and pressing a keyboard shortcut on every boot.
Now AboutChromebooks is reporting a new way that will allow Chrome OS users to overcome these shortcomings while sideloading Android APKs on Chromebooks. This new way will come with Chrome OS 80. However, the process to do it is not very simple, and it won’t work on all models.
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The first thing you need to set up is the Linux environment on the Chrome OS. This is needed because the apps have to be installed using ADB. It must be noted that not all Chromebooks support Linux, such as the Asus C302. In other words, you need Chrome OS 80 Dev Channel with Android SDK Platform Tools, such as ADB (Android Debug Bridge). These tools connect an Android phone to a computer for the purpose of debugging.
After you have these things ready, open the Android Settings app and then go to the Developer Options and enable ADB. You will get a pop-up to confirm if you want to go ahead. Once you confirm, the device will restart.
Next, run the command adb connect 100.115.92.2:5555 to connect to Android. This command connects your terminal to the Android container (ARC). You may get a pop-up again on the Chromebook asking you to confirm access to ADB.
Now you can install APKs by copying them to the “Linux apps” folder. You will need to run the following command: adb install “File name.” For example, if you want to install fortnite.apk, then you should run the following command: adb install fortnite.apk.
Is it safe?
Although the above process will not be difficult for a developer, for a general user, it may be a bit difficult. But this could be intentional because easy installation could open the door for more Android-based malware. Google also tries to warn you about this. For instance, when you enable ADB access, a message appears on the lock screen, reading, “This device may contain apps that haven’t been verified by Google.”
There is one more caution as well. In October, when Google first talked about adding such a feature to sideload Android APKs on Chromebooks, the search giant noted that this feature is not for general users. Instead, it is for developers who use Android Studio to develop Android apps for Chromebooks and “push” it for testing in the Chrome OS.
Chrome OS 80 is currently in the dev and canary channels, and it is expected to be released on Feb. 11. The OS will come with many improvements and features. One such feature could be “Quick Answers.” It will be similar to macOS’s Look Up and will be powered by Google Search and Google Assistant. The feature will allow users to select a text or an image and then search all related relevant content.
Another feature reported to come with Chrome OS 80 is Linux Memory Changes. Currently, 1 GB of maximum memory is allocated to the Linux environment, irrespective of the Chromebook’s internal RAM. However, this will change with Chrome OS 80, and Chromebooks with more RAM will benefit with higher allocations.
One more feature that Chrome OS 80 could come with is the End-of-Life Reminder feature. Google wants to give users the ability to know when their device will stop getting support. Under the “Additional details” page, users will see the end-of-support month and year.
Now that Android Apps are available on a handful of Chromebooks running Chrome OS 53 (the ASUS Chromebook Flip, Acer Chromebook R11, and the 2015 Chromebook Pixel), users like myself have already run into some issues with apps that show up in the Play Store as “not compatible with your device.”
For instance, Google’s new Duo app, when searched for on the ASUS Chromebook Flip, shows up with this exact message. Granted, Duo isn’t really meant for desktop use (crossing my fingers that may change down the road, but I digress…), but it’s a quick example of an app that isn’t yet ready to install on Chrome OS.
But that shouldn’t stop us now, should it?
Anyway, on to the method.
First and foremost, you need a Chromebook that has the Play Store enabled already. I know that seems obvious, but we want to cover all the bases.
Second, you need that Chromebook to be in Developer mode. This is different from the Dev or Beta Channel of Chrome OS. This is actually a process you need to go through. I’ve covered it right at the top of my Ubuntu Installation Video I’ve embedded below. Simply skip to 1:30 to watch. Keep in mind, this will wipe your device, so make sure your things are backed up.
For most Chromebooks, you simply hold ESC + REFRESH and hit the Power button. After a reboot, the screen comes up with a prompt to insert recover media. Hit CTRL+D. You’ll then be asked to turn off OS verification by pressing Enter. Do that. You’ll then be met with a screen that tells you OS Verification is now off. Hit CTRL+D again. Then you will see a screen telling you that your device is now being transitioned into developer mode.
Grab a snack. It takes a minute.
Once this is done, you will have a fresh, new install of Chrome OS, so you’ll need to get signed in and set up again. You shouldn’t have to re-enable the Play Store, but if you do, check out this article on getting that up and running.
Now that you are done, you need to simply go to the Play Store and download a file manager. Some file managers work and some don’t for this, so your mileage may vary. The one I found that works well for this is FX Explorer. As I said, you favorite might work and it might not.
Now, simply find the APK of the app you would like to install. Navigate to it from the file manager you downloaded and double-click it. It should be in the ‘Downloads’ folder. You will now be prompted to allow unknown sources to be installed. Click the slider to enable this and proceed with the install process. See the screen grab below.
That’s it. Now your app is installed and ready to use!
Keep in mind, many apps are marked as not being ready to install because they…aren’t ready. You will likely encounter bugs with this, but it is great to know that it is possible. Down the road this method could prove invaluable. One other note: the security settings are accessible if you go to settings -> Android Apps -> App Settings -> Security. If you’d like to disable this in the future, that’s where you need to head to.
About Robby Payne
Tech junkie. Musician. Web Developer. Coffee Snob. Huge fan of the Google things. Founded Chrome Unboxed because so many of my passions collide in this space. I like that. I want to share that. I hope you enjoy it too.
Android apps coming to Chromebooks might very well be the defining moment for Google’s Chrome OS platform. In our usage of Android apps on Chromebook, we have found Chromebook’s functionality to have multiplied innumerably. However, there’s one catch, that is, many apps on the Play Store aren’t compatible with the Chromebook. For instance, apps like WhatsApp, Instagram, Uber, Inbox by Gmail, Chromecast, PayPal and more are incompatible because of various reasons like the fact that Play Store treats the Chromebook as an Android 6.0 tablet, the lack of GPS on Chromebooks etc.
Thankfully, you can always sideload Android apps through APK files but Chromebook natively does not support these files. The good news is, there’s a way to install APK files on Chromebook and that’s what we are about to tell you. So, without further ado, let’s get on with it, shall we?
Note: To install APKs, you will have to enable “Unknown Sources” and the option is only available on Chromebooks with developer mode enabled. To do it, check out our detailed post on how to enable developer mode on Chromebook.
The Play Store is available on the Chrome OS 53 update through the developer channel and it’s only available for Chromebook Flip, as of now. So, before you try to install any APK files, check out our post on how to get Play Store. If you have the aforementioned Chrome OS build, here are the steps to install APK files on Chromebook:
1. Firstly, you will need a file manager Android app from the Play Store. So, open up Play Store and install the file manager you want. We used Solid Explorer in our test.
2. Then, download the APK files of apps you want to install from APKMirror.com. Meanwhile, go to Chrome OS Settings and click on “App Settings” in the Android Apps section.
3. The Android like Settings page should open up. Here, go to Security and turn on “Unknown sources”.
4. Once the APK file is downloaded, open the file manager app and go to the Downloads folder. Here, open the APK file and you should see the usual app installation interface from Android. Press “Install“.
5. The app installation might take a little longer than usual but the good news is, all the APKs we tried to install, did install without any fuss. Once the app is installed, tap “Open” to start using the app.
Note : While most of the apps install via the APK files route, not all of them work. For instance, Instagram works fine but apps like Uber, which require location services don’t work.
Use Android Apps that are incompatible on the Play Store
Well, that was pretty easy, right? So, basically, you can now easily install apps that are incompatible with the Chromebook on the Play Store. So, install your favorite Android apps on your Chromebook with ease and do let us know your experience. Sound off in the comments section below and stay tuned for more articles related to Android apps on Chromebook, as we discover more about it.
One advantage that Android phones have over iPhones is the ability to easily install apps that didn’t come from Google’s Play Store, without having to root, or jailbreak the phone. Many argue that it’s not a great idea, as it opens your phone up to certain risks, and those people would be right. Which is why the ability to do it is turned off by default, and turning it on prompts a scary warning.
But if you’re brave enough to enable it, and trust the source of the app you’re trying to install, it can be a handy feature that opens up some unique possibilities.
For instance, the ability to add a Microsoft Exchange account to your Gmail app on your Android device requires that you install an APK that’s not found in the Google Play Store. I don’t know why it’s not there, the APK was developed by Google themselves. But, whatever the reason, that’s were we are.
So, is it possible to side-load app APKs on a Chromebook running Android? Yes! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work right out of the box, it requires putting your device into Developer Mode (this is different from the Developer Channel. Developer Mode is a tad bit like rooting your phone. It requires disabling OS Verification, so, it does open your device up to vulnerabilities).
If you’re comfortable putting your device into Developer Mode, then installing third party APKs is just as easy on the Chromebook as it is on your Android phone.
Now that you’ve enabled installing apps from Unknown Sources, open your favorite Android file manager, navigate to the APK file, and open it. Just like you would on your phone or tablet.
I installed the Gmail Exchange Services APK, and am now able to add Microsoft Exchange accounts to Gmail on my Chromebook!
I just wanted to say that even though the installation of the APK was successful, and the option to add an Exchange account is now there in my Gmail app, the Exchange account I added did not work, because Chrome OS blocks certain (most) ports and so even though I added the account, it was never able to successfully pull any emails from the Exchange server. That’s a major bummer that I’m hoping will be addressed.
About James Welbes
James has been a Chromie ever since 2012, when he accepted a temporary position as a Google Specialist, educating customers about Chromebooks in his local Best Buy. Since then he’s converted his home to 100% Chrome OS, and has owned over half a dozen Chrome OS devices over the years. He currently uses a Pixelbook at home, and an Asus Chromebox at work.
How to Install Android Apps from APK Files on Chromebook – Android apps coming to Chromebooks might thoroughly be the defining moment for Google’s Chrome OS platform. In our utilization of Android apps on Chromebook, we’ve observed Chromebook’s functionality to have multiplied innumerably. However, there’s one catch, that is, many apps on the Play Store aren’t compatible with the Chromebook. For example, apps like WhatsApp, Instagram, Uber, Inbox by Gmail, Chromecast, PayPal and more are incompatible because of various reasons like the fact that Play Store treats the Chromebook as an Android 6.0 tablet, the lack of GPS on Chromebooks and so on.
Luckily, you can always sideload Android apps via APK documents however Chromebook natively does no longer support these files. The good news is, there’s a way to install APK files on Chromebook and that’s what we are about to tell you. So, without further ado, let’s get on with it, shall we?
Note: To install APKs, you can have to allow “Unknown sources” and the selection is most effective to be had on Chromebooks with developer mode enabled. To do it, check out our detailed post on how to enable developer mode on Chromebook.
The Play Store is available on the Chrome OS 53 update through the developer channel and its simplest to be had for Chromebook turn, as of now. So, before you try to install any APK files, take a look at out our post on a way to get Play keep. when you have the aforementioned Chrome OS build, right here are the stairs to install APK files on Chromebook:
- First, you will need a file manager Android app from the Play Store. So, open up Play Store and install the file manager you want. We used Solid Explorer in our test.
- Then, download the APK files of apps you want to install from APKMirror.com. Meanwhile, go to Chrome OS Settings and click on “App Settings” in the Android Apps section.
- The Android like Settings page should open up. Here, go to Security and turn on “Unknown sources”.
- Once the APK file is downloaded,open the file manager app and go to the Downloads folder. Here, open the APK file and you should see the usual app installation interface from Android. Press “Install“.
- The app installation might take a slight longer than usual but the good news is, all the APKs we tried to install, did install without any fuss. Once the app is installed, tap “Open” to start using the app.
Note: While most of the apps install via the APK files route, not all of them work. For instance, Instagram works fine but apps like Uber, which require location services don’t work.
On the Android OS, sideloading an app refers to the method of sending an app to your Android device from your computer rather than downloading it from the Play Store.
Sideloading is the only thanks to installing apps on modified Android devices, but it primarily allows developers to check out their apps before publishing them. Due to this, you’re getting to need Android development tools on your computer to sideload an app.
Table of Contents
Developers employ ADB to send data between a computer and an Android device. It allows a developer, or simply someone looking to tinker with their Android device, to regulate their phone from a computer, send files, install apps, and even run a console on the device with root privileges.
Google makes the ADB available for free of charge to anyone. You’ll download it straight from them and install it on your computer.
- Open your browser, and download the ADB from Google.
- Unpack the ZIP file into a convenient folder. This is often the folder that you’ll run the ADB from.
- Right-click within the directory where you unpacked the archive. Within the menu that pops open, select Open a command window here.
- You’re able to enable debugging on your phone, connect it, and run ADB. whenever you would like to use the ADB; you’re getting to open a prompt during this folder.
- Open up a terminal window.
- Install ADB with the apt package manager.
Enable USB Debugging
To use ADB, you’re getting to got to enable USB debugging on your Android device. It’s not that difficult, and it’s built right into the Android settings.
- Open the Android Settings app.
- Scroll down and choose System.
- Scroll all the thanks to the rock bottom of the list again, and press About phone.
- Find the Build number. Tap it seven times at a reasonably regular rate. Think musical beats. As you meet up with seven, your phone will warn you that you’re close to enabling developer options.
- Go back up A level to the System settings. This time, locate and tap Developer options.
- Scroll until you see the Debugging heading. Find the Android debugging switch and toggle it on. Suppose this device isn’t something like a phone or tablet that you can plug directly into your computer, flip the ADB over the network switch. This is a possible security risk, so only enable debugging over the network when necessary.
Sideload an App
You’re ready to start out sideloading apps. Turn your attention back to your computer, and obtain your charging cable ready if you’re connecting your device with it.
- Connect your device to your computer. If you’re working over a network, find your device’s IP address and confirm that it’s connected.
- Open a terminal window (or command prompt) to run the ADB. If you’re on Windows, confirm that you’re within the right directory, and Linux users can run it from anywhere.
- In the terminal window, run:
You should see your device listed but not connected. At an equivalent time, check the screen on the device. There’ll be a window asking you to authorize access from the pc. Accept.
If you’re connecting over the network, you almost certainly won’t see your device listed. Instead, run:
Substitute the IP address of your device. An equivalent authorization window will crop up for you now too.
4.If you don’t have already got an app APK file to sideload, you’ll go browsing and find one. Check APKMirror for an outsized library of Android APKs. Take care installing APKs from an unknown source, as they’ll contain malicious software.
5.Now that you have your APK, you’ll install it. Use the install option in ADB followed by the trail to your package.
6.Your package will install and, if all goes well, be available on the Android device.
I hope you found this guide useful. If you’ve got any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to use the shape below.
- Is it illegal to sideload an app?
While sideloading isn’t illegal, there are some things to think about before getting started. Sideloaded apps don’t accompany an equivalent security assurance as official downloads. This is often not dragged as long as you trust the app’s source, but you’ll be installing malicious spyware without realizing it.
- Is sideloading a Firestick illegal?
Installing HBO Max on Amazon Fire TV by “sideloading” puts users in the legal grey area. Given the circumstances, downloading HBO Max from a third-party website isn’t technically legal — but it’s unlikely AT&T or Amazon will do anything about it.
- Is there a free VPN for Fire Stick?
Windscribe Free is the simplest free VPN we’ve tested for Fire TV Stick. It is a well-designed Firestick VPN app that’s easy to put in and use. It is also one of the fastest free VPNs we’ve tested, especially connecting to nearby servers.
How do you install apps on your Android device? Well, most of the people rely only on Google Play because everything happens with a touch on the screen there. What about installing apps that are unavailable on the store?
Well, you need to sideload them. As an Android user, you might have done that many times already. For example, Google doesn’t allow unofficial streaming applications on their platform. So, the developers supply respective APK files for those in need.
NewPipe, a popular third party YouTube client, is distributed as APK
When it comes to Chromebook, you can install apps from Play Store. However, you were not allowed to do seamless sideloading. In order have a third-party application, a series of geeky steps as well as a secondary device was needed.
But things are changing now! About a couple of months ago, Google announced they would be bringing easier Android app sideloading to Chrome OS 80. But, the hardware should be capable of running Crostini for one to access the feature.
Guess what, the Mountain View tech titan has quietly brought it to the latest beta version (v80). Meaning, it’s already found its way to canary and dev (v81). So, how can one leverage it so that sideloading becomes easier?
First, make sure that you are running either beta, dev or canary build of Chrome OS. Then, head over to Settings>> Linux Beta>> Turn on>> Install. Once you do that, enable USB debugging and restart your device.
After getting back to the platform, you will see a warning message on the lock screen saying that unauthorised applications might be present. As we are doing exactly that, you can ignore the same to log in.
Get ready with an APK file and fire up the terminal. There, you will have to enter the command adb connect 100.115.92.2:5555. It will establish a connection between your terminal and the Android container as if it were a physical device.
There you go! The only thing left for you to do is entering a command (adb install app-name.apk) to install application using the file you have downloaded. That’s it!
Note:- Stay tuned to our Google section for similar stories.
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