Gone are the days when Chrome OS felt simply like a glorified web browser limited to Google’s apps and services. Google says it designed the platform around speed, simplicity, and security but, to be honest, only two of those probably still hold. Chrome OS has grown up to be quite the complicated beast and now Google is revealing what it was all for: Web and Android app development.
When Chrome OS embraced Android apps, it was seen as a natural unification of Google’s operating systems and a way to fix Chrome OS’ lack of apps. When it added support for running Linux, however, it may have been seen as eccentric and unnecessary. That, however, was really just to lay the foundations of Google’s true aim: turn Chromebooks into Google software development tools.
Seeing as Linux is the dominant OS for web servers and Chrome OS revolves around Web apps, it’s doesn’t take much to jump from “running Linux” to “running a Linux test server for development” on Chrome OS. Android app development, however, is a bit harder, which is where the latest updates announced at Google I/O comes in.
For one, installing Android Studio, Google’s official and blessed Android IDE, is no easier than ever. Just download and click and install. Chrome OS will also support connecting an Android phone via USB to simplify testing APKs on an actual device. And for both end users and developers, Chrome OS now lets you share files seamlessly between Chrome OS itself, Google Drive, Android, and Linux.
With these small but significant features, Google is positioning Chromebooks as the only computer you’ll need for both consuming content on the Web as well as developing for Google’s supported platforms (Web and Android). Of course, not all Chromebooks support Linux yet and the recommended list only includes the Lenovo Yoga C630 Chromebook, Acer Chromebook Spin 13, HP Chromebook x360, HP Chromebox G2, ASUS Chromebox CXI3. Google does promise that all Chrome OS devices launching this year will have Linux support ready right out of the box.