Android Apps on Chrome OS in 2021: A Complete Guide

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On Chrome OS, native apps are cloud-based. That means productivity apps like Gmail and Google Docs live and store items in the cloud. Newer Chromebooks also support Android apps downloaded from the Google Play Store. This opens up a multitude of possibilities with millions of productivity apps and games. Both web apps and Android apps support shortcuts and are easily accessible through the launcher. Whether you’re looking for popular social media apps or mobile games, Android apps have something for everyone. Let’s see how to get started with Android apps on Chrome OS, along with some of the best apps to install.

Is your Chromebook compatible with Android apps?

Before you can expand your app selection through the Google Play Store, you need to check that your Chromebook is supported. If your Chromebook was released in or after 2017, there is a good chance that Android apps will be able to run. The quickest way to check this is to leave the settings on your Chromebook.

App settings in Chrome OS

Check if your Chromebook supports the Google Play Store:

  • Turn on your Chromebook and sign in.
  • Click the time in the lower right corner.
  • Click on that the settings Tooth.
  • Choose Apps.
  • If your Chromebook supports the Google Play Store, see a Google Play Store Possibility. That means you can run Android apps on your Chromebook.

Play Store enabled in the Chrome OS settings

Some older Chromebooks didn’t ship with Google Play support enabled by default. However, many of these devices received support for Android apps via an update. If you have an older Chromebook, you should check for updates if you don’t see the available Google Play Store option.

To update your Chromebook:

  • Turn on your Chromebook and sign in.
  • Connect to WiFi.
  • Click the time in the lower right corner.
  • Choose the settings Tooth.
  • Select the Via Chrome OS Possibility.
  • Click or tap Check for updates.
  • Follow the instructions until the update is complete.

Update screen to Chrome OS

Unfortunately if the Google Play Store option still does not appear in the settings, Your device does not support Android apps. If your Chromebook doesn’t support Android apps, it’s probably worth upgrading to one of our new favorite Chromebooks. If your Chromebook supports Android apps, the Google Play Store should be enabled by default. In rare cases the option is not yet activated, you can choose turn on to enable the option to run Android apps.

Install and use Android apps on Chrome OS

If you use an Android phone every day, you already know how to install apps from the Play Store. On the other hand, the process might be a bit new for those who use an iPhone as a daily device. Installing apps from the Play Store is very similar to the process for Apple’s App Store for iOS or macOS.

Play Store on Chrome OS

To download Android apps to your Chromebook:

  • Turn on your Chromebook and sign in.
  • Open the app drawer. Either tap that Launcher Icon or swipe up from the bottom.
  • Find the Google Play Store app and open it.
  • Find or search for the app of your choice. If you’re looking for options, check out our list of the best Android apps in this article.
  • Click on To install.
  • Wait for the app to install and it will show up in your app drawer shortly afterwards.

Now that you know how to install Android apps, let’s take a look at the best options in each category.

Best Android apps for Chrome OS

Before we get into our list of the best Android apps for each category, be aware that not all Android apps are optimized for Chromebooks. Most of the popular social media, productivity, and media apps are optimized, but there are rare exceptions. It’s easy to tell if an app isn’t optimized for Chromebooks – you’ll find that the app is still running in a window the size of a phone screen.

Most of the apps discussed below are optimized for Chrome OS, with the exception of Microsoft Office Mobile.

Whatsapp

WhatsApp runs on Chrome OS

One of the most widely used messaging apps in the world. Chances are you’re already using this app on your phone, so it’s nice that you can use it on your Chromebook too. In addition to messages, you can also make phone or video calls within the app.

Twitter

Twitter app on Chrome OS

Although there are several third-party Twitter apps on Android, most of the time they are all hampered by Twitter’s API restrictions. Because of this, the official Twitter app for Android or Chrome OS is still the way to go. Follow your favorite conversations and take part in polls or group DMs. This Android app brings all of the latest Twitter features to your Chromebook.

Netflix

Netflix runs on Chrome OS

Pretty much everyone uses Netflix these days. If you have a Chromebook, you probably want to stream some of your favorite shows on it. Check out award-winning series, films, documentaries and stand-up specials. With the mobile app, you can get Netflix while you travel, commute, or just take a break on your new Chromebook.

VLC media player

VLC Media Player runs on Chrome OS

Streaming is great, but sometimes you want to play content that you already own. VLC Media Player is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player that plays most multimedia files, as well as discs, devices, and network streaming protocols. One of the most versatile video apps out there, this is a must have for your Chromebook or Chrome OS tablet.

Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom runs on Chrome OS

Lightroom is an image editing program with a fairly intuitive user interface. If you’re not quite ready for the endless options in Photoshop, Lightroom might be the app for you. Simple image editing tools such as image sliders and filters make image editing easy. Retouch photos at full resolution, apply photo filters, or start photo editing wherever you are. Experiment and compare photo edits without losing the original and choose your favorite look.

Adobe Photoshop Express

Photoshop Express on Chrome OS

Professional creatives need the power of Photoshop on the go. Adobe’s Photoshop Express app for Android gives your Chromebook that power. Photoshop Express gives you a full range of tools and effects. Remove noise, fix crooked images instantly, or just use this pro tool to create cute memes for Instagram.

Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office app on Chrome OS

Microsoft Office is the most popular productivity suite and offers Android apps for Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. Overall, the Android version of any Office app runs reasonably well on Chrome OS. Basic editing features are free in all apps, but on devices larger than 10 inches – which is the case with most Chromebooks – you’ll need a Microsoft 365 subscription to activate all of the features. Unfortunately, the Android version of OneDrive doesn’t work properly on Chromebooks. You can now download Word, Excel, and Powerpoint in a single app, which makes organizing your app drawer a little easier.

If productivity is your main goal with Chrome OS, consider buying a docking station to turn your Chromebook into a full-time workstation.

Pocket casts

Pocket Casts runs on Chrome OS

For podcast enthusiasts, Pocket Casts is the best podcatcher you will find on Android. Lots of premium features and a beautiful user interface make this one of our favorite apps on Android. If you spend a lot of time listening to podcasts, the trim silence and skip intros feature will help you get straight to the content in each episode.

Spotify

Spotify runs on Chrome OS

There are many music streaming options on Android. If you are an iPhone user, you can even download Apple Music from the Play Store and use it. Still, Spotify is our favorite music client for Chrome OS. With a long tradition in music, a beautiful user interface, and a large library, this is still the best streaming service and app out there.

These are our favorite Android apps for Chrome OS. From social media to professional photo editing apps, there is something for everyone. There are almost limitless ways to use Android apps on your Chromebook. Keep in mind that some apps may not be fully optimized, but even so, those apps will still work for basic functions. If you are into mobile gaming, you can also download many of your favorite Android games.

For those in need of powerful desktop apps that aren’t available on Android, check out our guide to Linux apps on Chrome OS. Now you’ve seen our selection. Let us know which Android apps you are using on Chrome OS.



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