HomeAndroidTips on how to scale made-for-mobile apps to ChromeOS

Tips on how to scale made-for-mobile apps to ChromeOS

Posted by Patrick Fuentes, Developer Relations Engineer, Google ChromeOSIndividuals’s urge for food for apps on bigger screens is rising quick. In Q1 2022 alone, there have been 270 million energetic Android customers throughout Chromebooks, tablets, and foldables. So if you wish to develop attain, engagement, and loyalty, taking your app past cellular will unlock a world of alternative.

In case your app is out there in Google Play, there’s a very good probability customers are already participating with it on ChromeOS. And in the event you’re simply beginning to consider bigger screens, tailoring your app to ChromeOS — which runs a full Android framework — is a good place to begin. What’s extra is that optimizing for ChromeOS is similar to optimizing for different larger-screen gadgets, so any work you do for one will scale to the opposite.

At Android Dev Summit 2022, I shared just a few ChromeOS-specific nuances to bear in mind when tailoring your app to bigger screens. Let’s discover the highest 5 issues devs ought to think about, in addition to workarounds to frequent challenges.

1) Finessing enter compatibility

One of many largest variations between person conduct on cellular and larger-screen gadgets is folks’s choice for enter gadgets. About 90% of ChromeOS customers work together with apps utilizing a mouse and keyboard, and Android customers throughout tablets and foldables typically do the identical.
About 90% of ChromeOS users interact with apps using a mouse and keyboard
Step one to assembly folks’s expectations is testing your app’s assist for a keyboard, mouse, and stylus. When you’ve bought your fundamentals lined, you possibly can add enhancements reminiscent of considerate focus states and context menus. You may also additional improve enter compatibility on bigger screens by testing app-specific enter gadgets, reminiscent of sport controllers.
Focus states and context menus shown on Chromebooks

2) Making a fit-for-larger-screen UI

Individuals freely resize apps on ChromeOS, so it’s necessary to consider how your app appears and feels in a wide range of facet ratios — together with panorama orientations. Though ChromeOS affords automated windowing compatibility assist for made-for-mobile experiences, apps that particularly optimize for bigger screens are likely to drive extra engagement.

The additional display actual property on Chromebooks, tablets, and foldables provides each you and your customers extra room to play, discover, and create. So why not profit from it? You possibly can implement a responsive UI for bigger screens with toolkits reminiscent of Jetpack Compose and create adaptive experiences by sticking to design finest practices.

3) Implementing binary compatibility

In case you’ve completely run your app on Android telephones, you would possibly solely be acquainted with ARM gadgets. However Chromebooks and lots of different desktops typically use x86 architectures, which makes binary assist essential. Though Gradle builds for all non-deprecated ABIs by default, you’ll nonetheless must particularly account for x86 assist in case your app or one among your libraries contains C++ code.

Because of binary translation, many Android apps will run on x86 ChromeOS gadgets even when a appropriate model isn’t accessible. However this may hinder app efficiency and harm battery life, so it’s finest to present x86 assist explicitly every time you possibly can.

4) Giving apps an intensive check run

The surefire method of making certain an incredible person expertise? Run rigorous checks to verify your apps and video games work as anticipated on the gadgets you’re optimizing for. If you’re constructing for ChromeOS, testing your apps on Chromebooks or one other larger-screen system is right. However you have nonetheless bought choices if a bodily system isn’t accessible.

As an illustration, you possibly can nonetheless check a keyboard or mouse on an Android handset by plugging them into the USB-C port. And with the new desktop emulator in Android Studio, you possibly can take your app for a spin in a larger-screen setting and check desktop options reminiscent of window resizing.

A Chromebook featuring the Desktop Android Virtual Device in Android Studio

5) Sharpening apps for publishing

Generally, even apps examined on Chromebooks — and listed in Google Play — aren’t truly accessible to ChromeOS customers. This often occurs as a result of there’s an entry within the app’s manifest declaring it requires options that aren’t accessible on the unsupported system.

Let’s say you specify your app requires “android.{hardware}.digicam.” That entry refers to a rear-facing digicam — so any gadgets with solely a user-facing digicam could be thought-about unsupported. If any digicam will work to your app, you should utilize “android.{hardware}.digicam.any” as a substitute. And if a {hardware} characteristic isn’t a should to your app, it’s finest to specify in your manifest that it’s not required through the use of “required=false.”

A Chromebook featuring recommended manifest entries for hardware features. These manifest entries are also featured on their own next to the Chromebook
When you’ve bought your manifest squared away, your app is able to ship. Your app itemizing is usually your first probability to impress and entice customers. That’s why we’re excited the Play Console now lets you add screenshots particular to completely different type components. With this new performance, you possibly can exhibit what your app expertise is like on customers’ favourite gadgets and entice them to obtain.

Join with tens of millions of larger-screen customers

As folks’s love for desktops, tablets, and foldables continues to develop, constructing for these type components is turning into increasingly more necessary. Try different talks from Android Dev Summit 2022 in addition to sources on ChromeOS.dev and developer.android.com for extra inspiration and how-tos as you optimize for bigger screens. And don’t overlook to join the ChromeOS publication to maintain up with the newest.



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