Update: The Play Store is now widely available for most Chromebooks.
But if you have an older model, you may need to force it to update so you can download those apps.
Chances are, yours isn’t one of them.
In this tutorial, we’ll go over how to get Android apps on your Chromebook before the update even rolls out.
Are you ready to unlock the potential and flood your Chromebook with Android apps galore?
Let’s get updated.
Last updated: 3/6/23. Updated for accuracy.
How to get Play Store apps on your Chromebook. Now!
As of now, you can get easily get access to the Play Store (albeit, in “beta” only), on pretty much any Chromebook that’s currently scheduled to receive the Android update.
Older models may not have the update yet, which is just inconvenient when it’s already in the pipeline. Why wait for it when you can get it now?
(And probably play with other Chrome features?)
Update: Now in 2023, if you don’t have the update yet on your older Chromebook, you’ll probably never get it. It’s time to upgrade to a newer one. Who else is tired of waiting?
If your Chromebook is in the queue and you don’t feel like waiting, you can snag the update ahead of schedule with some basic hacking and tweaking 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 absolutely guaranteed to work. You’re basically forcing an update down your laptop’s throat and it may not take it well. Bugs, glitches, and errors are bound to ensue. And don’t forget that the Play Store update is still in beta testing so that only adds even more issues.
Be sure to backup your data before you start!
Anyway, let’s get on with the actual steps.
Force the Android update
Thanks to both of them for all their findings.
And one last time, this is not going to be smooth.
I can’t emphasize that enough. But if you want the Android updates early, you’ll have to go for it.
Your Chromebook may freeze, slow down, lag, or otherwise get corrupted. Proceed with caution. Do this at your own risk.
We resume no responsibility nor any liability for what you choose to do with your Chromebook.
Note: You should backup your personal data saved on your laptop. Doing this will automatically perform a Powerwash, which will delete all your saved files, images, videos, and other media on your hard drive.
Switching the Channel to Beta
Update: This is the easiest way to switch your version of Chrome to the Play Store enabled version.
Before, you had to use code and the command prompt to do it. This way is much easier. If it doesn’t work, use the old method instead (you can find it below this one).
Simply do the following:
Step 1: Click on your account picture in the bottom-right.
Step 2: Click on the “Settings” button (or look for a cog).
Step 3: Click on “About Chrome OS” and then you’ll see a window pop up.
Step 4: In the new window, click on “More info” below the system information.
Step 5: Click on “Change Channel” and select the “Beta” Channel.
Step 6: Confirm your changes.
Step 7: The Beta release will slowly download into your Chromebook. Sit back and be patient.
Step 8: Restart the Chromebook when it’s complete- it should ask you to restart.
Step 9: After it’s done booting up, tick the box next to “Enable Google Play Store on your Chromebook.” Confirm it.
That’s it. You’re in! To reset it back to normal, see the section below for instructions to switch back.
If this method didn’t work for you, try the original method that follows.
Using the command prompt to force the Play Store update
This is the old method. Use this if you couldn’t the previous one working.
Here we go:
Step 1: Enable Developer Mode on your Chromebook.
I wrote a detailed guide on how to enable it, which you should refer to if you’ve never used developer mode before. (Seriously, read it if you don’t know what you’re doing.)
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. Follow the on-screen dialog and proceed.
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. Go eat breakfast and have a cup of hot cocoa.
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.
This is where all the bugs and glitches come into play. The Canary channel is not secure and very unstable. You may end up freezing or crashing your Chromebook after you switch Channels, but it’s okay.
To get the Android update, you’ll have to enable it.
By the way, it’s not something you need to worry about because you can easily reset your Chromebook to factory settings if something breaks.
Note: The following lines of code need to be typed exactly as shown without the quotations. If you get an error, double-check your spelling.
To switch to the Canary Channel, press “CTRL + ALT + T” to open a command prompt window.
Type “shell” and press “Enter.”
Then type “sudo su” and press “Enter.”
This will grant you root access (basically administrator access, to keep it simple).
And type “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 download the Play Store by forcing the update.
Open another command prompt by pressing “CTRL + ALT +T” just like before.
Type “shell” in the new window and press “Enter.”
Type “sudo sh -” and press “Enter.”
Type “echo ‘–enable-arc’ > /usr/local/chrome_dev.conf” and hit “Enter.”
And finally type “mount -o bind /usr/local/chrome_dev.conf /etc/chrome_dev.conf” and hit “Enter.”
Step 5: Now punch in “CTRL+ SHIFT + Q” twice and you’ll sign out.
Step 6: Sign back in with your login credentials and you’ll see the Play Store splash screen.
Congrats. You’ll now have the Play Store update on your Chromebook.
(Not working? See the Troubleshooting section below.)
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 of using on your Chromebook.
If you don’t see any Play Store option, check your Chrome settings menu for an option to enable it.
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
Had enough fun? Enough Android apps for today?
Here’s how to switch back to the Stable Channel:
Step 1: Open a command prompt by pressing “CTRL + ALT + T.”
Step 2: Type “shell” and press “Enter.”
Step 3: Type “sudo su” and press “Enter.”
Step 4: Type “update_engine_client – channel=stable-channel – update” and your laptop will revert back to the default Stable Channel.
Step 5: Your laptop will reboot. Press the spacebar to re-enable Chrome OS verification at the verification screen.
Alternatively, you can just do a Powerwash and it’ll revert back to normal.
If you’re having problems getting this to work, try the following:
Check that your device is on the list
If you’re trying to force the update on an unsupported device, it probably won’t work.
Check the list and make sure your specific Chromebook is scheduled to get the update some time in the future.
Powerwash your Chromebook
Your device may have some apps installed on it that could be interfering with the process.
A Powerwash will restore it back to factory settings (but at the cost of deleting all your data). Note that you can always back up your data.
Try this alternate code instead
Do a Powerwash and then do Steps 1-3 again.
When you reach Step 4, try this code instead (type each line exactly as shown (without the quotations) and hit “Enter” after each line):
“cp /etc/chrome_dev.conf /usr/local/”
“mount –bind /usr/local/chrome_dev.conf /etc/chrome_dev.conf”
“echo “–arc-availability=officially-supported ” >> /etc/chrome_dev.conf”
You just tried out the Play Store before it was released
And…there you have it.
So now that you tried it out, what do you think? Leave a comment and let me know.
Now you can switch between them whenever you want. Just be sure to backup your stuff.
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.
Update: Chrome OS and the Play Store are very interconnected platforms. That’s probably why the Andromeda rumors went around tying the two together. It’s just something you’d expect.
Getting to experience your favorite Android apps on a Chromebook means convenience, accessibility, and a whole new way to play around with them.
Although the whole update is still in beta testing, it looks very promising so far. Even though flagship laptops like the Samsung Plus had trouble running them, you can tell that they’ve definitely improved since this article was written. And we’ll continue to see them improve.
I’ll keep you updated when a milestone breaks through. Feel free to subscribe for email updates (if you wish).