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 cell will unlock a world of alternative.

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

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

1) Finessing enter compatibility

One of many largest variations between consumer habits on cell and larger-screen units is individuals’s choice for enter units. 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 individuals’s expectations is testing your app’s help for a keyboard, mouse, and stylus. When you’ve obtained your fundamentals coated, you possibly can add enhancements corresponding to considerate focus states and context menus. You too can additional improve enter compatibility on bigger screens by testing app-specific enter units, corresponding to 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 essential to consider how your app seems to be and feels in quite a lot of side ratios — together with panorama orientations. Though ChromeOS presents automated windowing compatibility help 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 offers each you and your customers extra room to play, discover, and create. So why not benefit from it? You’ll be able to implement a responsive UI for bigger screens with toolkits corresponding to Jetpack Compose and create adaptive experiences by sticking to design greatest practices.

3) Implementing binary compatibility

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

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

4) Giving apps an intensive check run

The surefire manner of guaranteeing an amazing consumer expertise? Run rigorous checks to ensure your apps and video games work as anticipated on the units you’re optimizing for. If you’re constructing for ChromeOS, testing your apps on Chromebooks or one other larger-screen gadget is right. However you’ve got nonetheless obtained choices if a bodily gadget isn’t accessible.

As an example, 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 corresponding to 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 really 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 gadget.

Let’s say you specify your app requires “android.{hardware}.digital camera.” That entry refers to a rear-facing digital camera — so any units with solely a user-facing digital camera could be thought-about unsupported. If any digital camera will work in your app, you should use “android.{hardware}.digital camera.any” as a substitute. And if a {hardware} function isn’t a should in your app, it’s greatest 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 obtained your manifest squared away, your app is able to ship. Your app itemizing is commonly your first probability to impress and appeal to customers. That’s why we’re excited the Play Console now lets you add screenshots particular to totally different kind elements. With this new performance, you possibly can showcase what your app expertise is like on customers’ favourite units and entice them to obtain.

Join with hundreds of thousands of larger-screen customers

As individuals’s love for desktops, tablets, and foldables continues to develop, constructing for these kind elements is changing into increasingly essential. Try different talks from Android Dev Summit 2022 in addition to assets on and for extra inspiration and how-tos as you optimize for bigger screens. And don’t neglect to join the ChromeOS e-newsletter to maintain up with the newest.

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