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Thanks to Android Studio’s desktop: AVD, Chromebooks may soon have better apps. 

Since its launch in 2011, Google has made significant improvements to ChromeOS with regular updates. In 2016, Google Play Store for ChromeOS was launched, and Linux app compatibility was added in 2018. In 2020, following this announcement, it created ChromeOS.dev, an online resource for ChromeOS app developers.

Developers have benefited from ChromeOS.dev’s tutorials, code samples and announcements since its inception. In the Electric Eel Canary release of the IDE, Google has now added the Desktop Android Virtual Device (AVD) image following its surprise inclusion in the AVD device list late last month. Instead of purchasing an actual Chromebook to use for testing, this tool will allow developers to create and run their apps on large-screen devices like Chromebooks without the need to do so.

The Desktop Android Virtual Device is built on Android 12 and has a number of useful features to help Chromebook users get the most out of Android. Freeform window mode, for example, can be used to launch apps with an application caption bar (similar to Windows or macOS) that permits resizing, shutting, and scaling the app. On the bottom right of the screen is a system tray that provides rapid access to system notifications and quick settings, rather than the swipe movements used on touch-first devices.

Desktop AVD with free-form windows

Google is encouraging developers to use fluid layouts to accommodate resizable activities in a desktop environment like Chromebooks. This is because resizing and switching between programmes are more common on these devices.

It is expected that the large-screen enhancements announced by ChromeOS.dev will benefit other platforms, including apps running on Chromebooks. The desktop AVD can be used right now by following these instructions:

To help with troubleshooting, developers can allow root access on Desktop AVD. This enables Android services but does not contain the Google Play Store app.