Android Studio gets Chrome OS emulation

Last week we covered the exciting news that Google has added support for Linux apps to Chrome OS, allowing apps like Android Studio to run on Chromebooks. Now we take a look at things from a different perspective, as Google has added a Chrome OS emulator to Android Studio.

This means developers can now test how Android apps will run on Chrome OS, without needing to have physical access to a Chromebook themselves.

Considering the sheer number of Chromebook sales, especially on the budget side of the market and the education sector, it makes sense to make sure Android apps will run smoothly on Chrome OS. Google has also recently added many new features to the operating system. So now might be a good time to start integrating Chrome OS more into your development plans.

How to test Android apps on Chrome OS

Getting started with Chrome OS emulation is pretty straightforward. First, you’ll need to download and install Android Studio, which is a 750-850MB download depending on the platform – it’s available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Next, install the Chrome OS SDK by going to Tools> SDK Manager> SDK Update Sites and pasting the URLs below:

Chrome OS repository

https://storage.googleapis.com/chrome_os_emulator/addon2-1.xml

Chrome OS system images

https://storage.googleapis.com/chrome_os_emulator/sys-img2-1.xml

The system images will be downloaded. Once the installation is complete, use AVD Manager to create a virtual Pixelbook.

Consider increasing the RAM available for the virtual machine to 2 GB and ensure that hardware virtualization support is enabled on your machine to maximize performance. Finally, you will need to sign in to a Google account (not necessarily your own) to actually run Android apps on the emulator. You can find these instructions in more detail on Google’s Android Developer page.

Of course, there are a few limitations that will be familiar to anyone who has used emulators for some time in the past. Performance won’t be as good as a proper Chromebook, so you might have to wait on occasion. Likewise, Google has explicitly marked Chrome OS virtual devices as potentially unstable, warning “you may experience slow performance and other issues with this preview version.”

Wrap

Despite its drawbacks, it’s great to see Google add Chrome OS emulation to Android Studio. This is a handy option for large projects and an important tool for smaller ones who can’t afford to buy a Chromebook just to test their Android apps. If Chrome OS continues to gain popularity, testing Android apps on the spot could become a critical step for development teams.

Are you going to test Chrome OS emulation on Android Studio? Let us know in the comments below.


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