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Chromebooks Add First Wave of Android Apps

Google is bringing its two operating systems — Android and Chrome — closer together with the release of its first four Android apps for Chromebooks. Announced last Thursday, the new Android apps for Chrome OS include the language education app Duolingo; Sight Words, a vocabulary learning app for children; the workplace productivity tool Evernote; and the video creation and sharing app Vine.

“These first apps are the result of a project called the App Runtime for Chrome (Beta), which we announced earlier this summer at Google I/O,” Googlers Ken Mixter and Josh Woodward said in a Sept. 11 Google Chrome blog post. They added that Google planned to work with “a select group of Android developers” over coming months to roll out more Android apps for Chromebooks.

The new apps are aimed at providing “a more seamless experience” for users whether they are using an Android phone or a Chromebook, said Mixter and Woodward. In addition to working with developers, Google is also asking users to submit their suggestions for additional Android apps they would like brought to Chrome.

‘Intuitive for Users’

Google has been working for some time to bring an Android-like user experience to Chromebooks. Speaking at the Google I/O conference in June, Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps, said, “This is a difficult challenge, technically.”

“We want this to be intuitive for users,” Pichai told attendees at the software developer-focused event. “We want this to work with as little modifications as possible.”

Google’s goal in this is to provide Android and Chrome users with “an even more interactive experience,” Pichai added. For example, users who have unlocked their Android phones can automatically unlock their Chrome devices simply by approaching it with their phone, and text messages and incoming phone calls on Android devices send prompts to the owners’ Chromebooks as well. Pichai said he’s even received pop-up alerts on his Chromebook notifying him that his Android phone battery was running low.

Reviewing the new apps on Ars Technica, Ron Amadeo said: “Android apps show up in the launcher just like any other Chrome app, and apps are downloaded from the Chrome Web Store. Portability like this has always been one of the benefits of writing to a virtual machine, and now it seems Google is really starting to take advantage of it.”

Android Reaches 1 Billion Users

Pichai said that as of this summer, the Android OS had a billion active users, while the number of Chrome for mobile users had reach 300 million.

Since the first Chromebook was released in 2011, sales of the devices have risen dramatically. The latest forecast from industry research firm Gartner predicts that Chromebook sales will reach 5.2 million this year, up 79 percent over last year.

Chromebooks have made an especially large impact on the educational market, with schools accounting for nearly 85 percent of sales last year, Gartner said.

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