Chromebooks can run Android apps, but it’s not a great experience—they’re emulated and kind of clunky. In a tacit admission that bolting Android apps onto a desktop environment isn’t always awesome, Google has begun replacing some on Android apps with their progressive web alternatives, directly in the Play Store.
Progressive web apps, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, is Google’s name for an advanced web page that can pull double-duty as an installed app, dynamically shifting its assets to fit mobile or desktop screens. PWAs can also do some more advanced stuff on modern browsers, like run in offline mode. Since they run based on a browser, and Chrome OS is pretty much nothing but browser, these web pages disguised as distinct apps can work a lot smoother and more efficiently than their Android-based counterparts.
According to 9to5Google, YouTube TV (the subscription service, not regular YouTube) and the standard Twitter client are the first tests of this system. Chrome OS users who search for these apps via the Play Store will see the standard Android-focused “Install” button, but the app that launches on their Chromebooks is just a small shell for the web page itself.
It’s an interesting way for Google to subtly push users onto apps that work better on Chrome OS than their Android counterparts. But it does seem to indicate that Google isn’t prioritizing Android apps on Chromebooks.