Chrome OS Preparing To Add Support For OEM Android Apps

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Pre-installed apps from a device manufacturer can sometimes be incredibly useful, and perhaps even, exclusive to that manufacturer or device. Other times, they can be extremely annoying. In most cases, on Android, they cannot be fully uninstalled, only disabled, meaning that they continue to take up space on the device despite being hidden away and never used. When a large number of consumers end up thinking that an app (or set of apps) fall into the latter category, they're often not-so-affectionately referred to as "bloatware". The careful toeing of the line that manufacturers and carriers perform with Android phones and tablets will soon be possible on Chrome OS devices, according to an issue in the Chrome OS bug tracker.

The bug tracker issue seeks to implement support for built-in apps through Arc, Chrome OS's built-in Android runtime. This means that developers will not have to create built-in apps for Chrome OS, but can program for the more ubiquitous Android, not to mention use existing Android pack-in apps. Normally, to run Android apps (and the Play Store) on a Chrome OS device, users have to opt-in via a special dialogue in the OS. OEM apps would be visible and usable before agreeing to the opt-in. The apps would reside in a special OEM folder, and much like their Android counterparts, would not fully leave the device when uninstalled, in most cases. Instead, they would simply be invisible until the user installs them again from the Play Store or via an APK file and special tools to make it Chrome OS-friendly.

Many of the same manufacturers that make Android devices make Chrome OS devices. Up until now, the only differentiating factor with Chromebooks has been the hardware, but with this feature, OEMs can begin making their Chrome OS devices a little more flavored, giving them their own unique spin. This could also result in paid deals to include certain apps with new Chromebooks. While this could open the door to full-on OS skin customization and like what's seen on Android, such a feature would require extensive development time on Google's part to enable, and more time for OEMs to create something. For now, it seems that in the future you might boot up a new Chromebook to find it comes with some extra added apps.

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