Saturday, June 18, 2016

Android on My Asus Flip!

by Tony Thomas

The Google Play Store is now available for the Asus Flip Chromebook!  It is the very first Chromebook to get this feature.  (Sorry, Pixel!)  And as you may know, I purchased a Flip a few weeks ago in anticipation of this event.

When I heard the news yesterday, I came home, did a power wash, and switched from the stable to the dev channel (Version 53.0.2768.0 dev) and was immediately rewarded by the familiar Google Play Store icon on the right hand of the shelf. 

I installed some of my favorite apps and most seemed to work perfectly, but for some reason, the audio does not work on apps like Google Music. I immediately opened a ticket with Google and am hoping they fix it soon. Also, "flipping" from horizontal to vertical in tablet mode seems to be problematic for some apps.

As this is an alpha build, there is obviously still a lot of work to do by both the Google developers and app coders. On the positive side, Android apps look and behave just like standalone Chrome apps.  They appear and can be launched in the "All Apps" menu and can be pinned to the shelf. Very nice integration!

In any case, I am having fun with Android apps and it looks like the future of ChromeOS is suddenly much brighter!

The Google Play Megathread on Reddit:

Update 6/24: After loading alpha again (after about 5 days on the stable channel), I found that sound and video does work on the apps that I tested as long as you reboot the machine after installation. This is a good practice for any app that isn't behaving right.

Update 6/25: The latest alpha update broke Android and wiped everything out. I am heading back to the stable channel until they get it sorted out.

Update 6/26: After doing some reading on the megathread, back to alpha: Version 53.0.2773.3 dev. There is now a symbol on icons that are websites and not apps.

Update 7/7: I noticed on my 2GB Flip that memory usage is low when I first turn it on and then all the ARC (Android) system stuff loads up. It takes up 151.5 MB of memory before running any Android apps according to Task Manager. I then went to Crosh and entered a "free" command and it appeared that all of the memory was being used by the system. I then opened up 17 tabs in three windows and the memory figures did not change that much. None of the tabs forced closed either. That demonstrates to me that ChromeOS is very good with memory management and that you can do more on a 2GB system than you might think.

Update 7/9: V53 alpha just updated to 53.0.2785.4. Android apps I pinned to the bar disappeared but they were still installed.

Another view of the Play Store

The About page of the new build

The Weather Channel Android app running on the Flip