Google has quietly confirmed which Chromebooks will be getting a Chrome OS update to Android 11, bringing up to date one of the most useful features of the platform. While Chrome OS is its own platform – and is now used in everything from cheap education notebooks to high-end ultraportables – it also includes support for running the same Android apps as on your phone.
In doing so, Google vastly increased the sort of functionality Chrome OS users could count on from their devices. While third-party software for Chromebooks has been improving over the years, Android apps are still exponentially more available, and being able to run one in a window on a Chrome OS machine can mean the difference between being able to complete a task on it or having to switch to a Windows or Mac machine.
To deliver that functionality, though, Google basically had to bake a reasonable amount of Android into Chrome OS. Until now, that’s been based on code from Android 9, but the search giant has been working on updating it to Android 11. That should bring with it more app feature support, most notably niceties like dark mode, as well as more streamlined scaling of windowed Android apps. We’d also expect to see an improvement in stability, which can, it’s fair to say, be a little patchy at the moment.
Not every Chrome OS device will be getting the Android 11 upgrade, mind. The list of lucky models was spotted by Android Police in Chromium’s Gerrit review repository, and they did the heavy lifting in translating codenames to actual retail names. As you’d hope, there are models from all the big names – including Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung, across laptops, desktops, and tablets.
Google’s own models are present, too. The Chromebook Pixel, Pixel Slate, Pixelbook, and Pixelbook Go will all be getting the Android 11 update.
As for when that update will happen, it’ll be a staggered affair. Google will begin pushing out the new Android version as part of Chrome version 90; that’s currently in beta, which means you can try it now if you want. Or, alternatively, you can wait for the final bugs to get knocked out and the full public release to arrive.