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Optimize your apps and games for Chromebooks

Expand your app's reach to a wider audience and new use cases by optimizing your apps for a better experience on Chromebooks.

Why it works

The Chromebook market is huge and has much momentum. Users love Chromebooks for their speed, security, and simplicity. As a result Chromebook users are looking for opportunities to use their devices more widely for work, education, and entertainment.

Optimizing your apps and games for Chromebooks with the quick and effective set of guidelines below will expand your app's reach to this wider audience. And, once your app is optimized you reach this new audience through Google Play, so you don't have a new distribution channel to master.

Your optimizations will also benefit your existing users and the improved experience will make them more engaged and more likely to convert or take other actions in your app.

Key features

  • Displays apps in three different window sizes to offer the best experience.
  • Enables users to multitask with multiple Android apps in moveable windows along with a full desktop browser, all within the familiar Chrome OS interface.
  • Keyboard, mouse, and touch input work together seamlessly.
  • Users get Android notifications on their Chromebooks.
  • Android apps can use the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity setup by the user or Chromebook's administrator.
  • File sharing between Chrome and Android apps is seamless using the Files app.
  • Performance of demanding apps such as games or design apps is excellent.

Best practices

  • Update your app's manifest file. Account for some key hardware and software differences between Chromebooks and Android devices. For example, adjust the settings so that the android.hardware.touchscreen feature is not required. Also ensure that none of the sensors are required if you want to run on any Chromebook regardless of the sensors it supports.
  • Support multi-window mode. Android renders apps on Chrome OS into layouts that are appropriate for this form factor and Google provides support for the most common window layouts: portrait (similar to Nexus 5), landscape (similar to Nexus 7), and maximized (uses all available screen pixels).
  • Choose the correct orientation option. Ensure the user has the correct layout when launching the app and the correct window controls to toggle among available layouts.
  • Support the keyboard, trackpad, and mouse. All Chromebooks have a physical keyboard and a trackpad, and some Chromebooks have a touchscreen as well. Some devices can even convert from a laptop to a tablet. Many apps may already support mouse and trackpad interactions with no extra work required. However, it's recommended that you check and if necessary adjust your app's behavior to ensure appropriate interaction through a trackpad. Also, make sure you distinguish between the trackpad and touchscreen interfaces properly.
  • Use Backup and Restore effectively. One of the strongest features of Chromebooks is that users can easily migrate from one device to another. So if someone stops using one Chromebook and starts using another, they simply have to sign in, and all of their apps appear. Although it's not mandatory, backing up your app's data to the cloud is a good idea.
  • Test your app. Make sure your app works on Chromebooks by enabling unknown sources on your Chrome OS device then testing your app in Developer mode. Also ensure that your Android app works well on a variety of Chromebook devices and available form factors, by testing your app on an ARM-based Chromebook, an x86-based Chromebook, and on a convertible device (one that can change between a laptop and a tablet) using both the touchscreen and touchpad.
  • Remember to start your Chrome OS in Developer Mode before attempting to set up an ADB connection. This gives you the ability to install Android apps on the Chromebook.
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