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Google Chromebooks being geared up to run Android apps

The entire contents of the Google Play Store could soon be available to Chrome OS users.

Google has already experimented with making a small selection of Android apps available to Chromebook users with the App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) project of 2014. Now it seems the company is looking to expand that initiative and bring its two operating systems closer together.

As a recent Reddit post reveals, a number of Chrome OS users have noticed some interesting behaviour in version 51 of the OS, which is the latest developer build. It seems that when the settings screen first loads up, an option briefly appears to “Enable Android apps to run on your Chromebook.”

The fact that it’s not actually possible to select this option yet suggests that it’s a future feature that Google has been working on.

Sure enough, a little digging from the user who reported this glitch reveals a reference to the arrival of Google Play on Chrome OS in the latter’s code.

“Choose from over a million apps and games on Google Play to install and use on your $1Chromebook.” reveals one of the telling lines.

This and the fact that the message earlier includes the phrase “ARC OPT IN” suggests that Google is readying a massive expansion of the aforementioned App Runtime for Chrome project.

Related: Toshiba Chromebook 2 review

At the very least, this would give the Chrome OS app ecosystem a big boost, but Ars Technica speculates that it could mean the end for the Chrome Web Store. Google appears to have pretty much abandoned development of the Chromebook storefront, while the Google Play Store goes form strength to strength.

The Android app store is available in 100 more countries than its Chrome equivalent, and it’s a lot more friendly to developers. Will it become the unified app store for all Google apps – even the desktop ones?

Next, take a look at our Tablets vs Laptops video:

Would Android app access make Chromebooks more appealing to you? Let us know in the comments.

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