How to get Android apps on Chromebook…without waiting for the update

By | 10/07/2016

With the Android update available on only 3 Chromebooks, and released in the Canary channel for another 3, that’s a whopping 6 Chromebooks which have access to the Play store. Learn how to get Android apps on your Chromebook before the update even rolls out.


Now, you can get access to the Play store (albeit, in a “beta” phase), on pretty much any Chromebook that’s planned to receive the Android update. If your Chromebook is in the queue and you don’t feel like waiting, you can unlock the update now. Like, right now.

This method only works on Chromebooks that will support the Android update at some point, which means it only works if your Chromebook is on the list of supported models. Even then, it’s not guaranteed to work. I found out about this method through some smart Chromebook users over at Chrome Story and 9to5Google who put together this method. Thanks to both of them.

Ready to unlock the potential and flood your Chromebook with Android apps? Let’s get the update.


How to get the Android app update on your Chromebook

Okay, so first you want to know before we go on (yeah, this is the last thing before we get started), is that it’s not going to be smooth. This is going to be buggy, glitchy, and even may pose a security risk. But if you want the Android updates early, you’ll have to go for it. You may freeze, screw up, or otherwise corrupt your Chromebook. So proceed with caution. Do so at your own risk. We resume no responsibility nor any liability for what you choose to do with your Chromebook throughout this guide.

Learn how to get the Android update on your Chromebook...as long as it's in the queue to receive the update with this guide.

Learn how to get Android apps Chromebook…as long as it’s in the queue to receive the update with this guide.

So, this is how to get the Android update on your Chromebook.

Step 1: Enable developer mode on your Chromebook. I wrote a detailed guide about this, which you should use if you’ve never used developer mode before. If you’ve done this before, just go ahead and press “Esc + Refresh + Power” and your screen will shut off temporarily. Then, a warning window will pop up.

Step 2: Read the warnings and then press “Ctrl + D” which will then start booting your Chromebook into developer mode. This can take a while, so be patient. Some models can take up to 25 minutes. After it’s been activated, you’ll have to press “Ctrl + D” again when your Chromebook reboots to skip the verification window.

Step 3: Next, we’ll switch to the Canary channel. This is where you can access the “try new features” before they’re released to the public in the Stable channel. the releases in the Canary channel are buggy, unstable, not secure, and may crash your Chromebook. However, to get the Android update we’ll have to enable it. It’s not that bad, as you can always reset your Chromebook to factory settings.


To switch to the Canary channel, press “Ctrl + Alt + T” to open a command prompt window.

Then type in “shell” followed by “sudo su” which will grant you root access (basically administrator access, to keep it simple).

Then, type in “update_engine_client –channel=canary-channel –update” which will actually update your channel settings for your Chromebook.

Step 4: Congrats, you’re officially opted-in to the Canary channel. Next, we’ll have to actually get the Play store by downloading the update.

Open another command prompt by pressing “Ctrl + Alt +T”Type “shell” in the new window.

Then type “sudo sh -”

And then “echo ‘–enable-arc’ > /usr/local/chrome_dev.conf”

Then, type “mount -o bind /usr/local/chrome_dev.conf /etc/chrome_dev.conf”

Step 5: Now punch in “Ctrl + Shift + Q” twice and you’ll sign out.

Step 6: Sign back in with your login credentials. You’ll now have the Play store update on your Chromebook. It should pop up and launch automatically as soon as you log in and you can now explore and install whatever Android apps you’ve dreamed about using on your Chromebook. If you don’t see any Play store option, check your Chrome settings menu for an option to enable the Play store.

Play around and try out some apps. Report any bugs and feedback to Google and help out the developers. Or just show off your Chromebook running Minecraft Pocket Edition to your friends.

How to switch back to the Stable channel from the Canary channel

Get back to the Stable channel from the Canary channel.

Get back to the Stable channel from the Canary channel and restore your Chromebook.

Had enough fun? Ready to go back to the Stable channel (like how your Chromebook used to be)? Here’s how to reset your Chromebook to the Stable channel:

Step 1: Open another command prompt by pressing “Ctrl + Alt + T.”

Step 2: Type “shell” and then “sudo su” (you’re almost done).

Step 3: Type “update_engine_client –channel=stable-channel -update” and your Chromebook will update to the Stable channel from the Canary channel.

Step 4: Your Chromebook will reboot. Press the spacebar to re enable Chrome OS verification at the verification screen.

Well, there you have it. Now you can switch to the Chrome Android update whenver you want, and switch back when you get bored of it. The apps are pretty fun to play with on a big screen and they respond pretty well for the most part. It’s impressive how Google managed to make the transition for thousands of Android apps over to Chromebooks.

 

About Andy Z.

Andy is a casual-hardcore Chrome OS fan and contributes to the site regularly. He likes computers, tech, sports cars, videogames, and of course, Chromebooks. Thinker. Introvert. Geek. You can find him on Twitter (@platytech), or send him an email (platy@platypusplatypus.com).

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