Review: Android Apps on Chrome OS Arrive, Disappoint

About a year ago, I wrote a column suggesting what the major tech companies should try and accomplish in 2016. For Google, I said: "It would be pretty great if Chromebooks could, out of the box, run all Android apps -- provided that, unlike on the recent Pixel C tablet, the Android apps were able to adapt better to a bigger screen."

I'm happy to report that the first Chromebook designed from the ground up to run Android apps out of the box has arrived, albeit a little past the end of 2016. It goes on sale this week for $450. It's called the Samsung Chromebook Plus, and it runs on an ARM processor, the same type of processor that powers the vast majority of smartphones and tablets. It was designed in close cooperation with Google.

Alas, in my tests of the Plus over the last few days, I found the Android execution frustrating.

The Android app feature is still in beta, not all apps work, and too many of those that do run seem like awkwardly blown-up phone apps, not software that's tailored for the Chromebook's 12-inch screen. And there are other issues.

Of course, the Plus, which has a touchscreen and comes with a stylus, is still a Chromebook. That means it runs the Chrome OS along with Android apps. And, purely as a Chromebook, it's very nice. Chrome OS, which is basically a browser that runs everything, including web apps, does fine on this model and its ARM processor.

But if you're looking for a laptop-style, bigger-screen version of your favorite Android phone, I can't recommend the Plus now. Optimizing a large number of Android apps for the Chromebook is "going to be a long process, to be honest," one Google official conceded, noting the beta label on the Google Play Store...

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