While Android apps on ChromeOS are really good, and have improved significantly since they were introduced earlier this year, it still isn’t a perfect experience. While it makes ChromeOS a perfectly viable Windows/Mac alternative (and I’ve been doing precisely this for the last month), it needs a bit more polish. That’s coming … now.
The ability to run Android apps in the background seems something so basic, and yet, ChromeOS can’t do it just yet. However, in Chrome OS beta 64, which you can access now, there’s a new feature called Parallel Tasks which allows multiple Android apps to be open and also active at once.
This was recently spotted on Chrome Unboxed, after they saw it on Reddit. We’ve enabled it on one of the Pixelbooks we’ve got and confirmed it works almost perfectly; instead of suspending in the background, the apps just keep running. Instead of losing network connections and going to sleep, the apps just keep running. This means you can have apps running in the background – e.g. a window with a security camera open – and continue to monitor it while working on something else. For users who have multiple screens, for example, this is a great development.
While ChromeOS 64 is still in beta, and thus not recommended for every user, it works rather well and we haven’t observed any crashes or issues yet, though reportedly the Play Store does operate a little slower with this swich turned on.
Enabling it is rather easy:
- Open up Chrome Settings, and scroll down to Google Play Store
- Open up the Android Settings via Manage Android preferences
- Enable Developer Settings (if you haven’t already) by opening the About pane and tapping the Build Number 7 times.
- Scroll down to the bottom of Developer Settings, and enable the parallel apps toggle:
If you’re on ChromeOS 64 beta, give it a try and let us know what you think.