Use Android apps on Chrome devices

Install Android apps on Chrome devices

Available as a beta feature for Chrome Education customers

As an administrator, you can force-install or decide which Android apps users can install on their managed Chrome devices. Users can’t automatically install Android apps. First, you need to enable Android apps for Chrome devices in your domain and approve apps.

Before you begin

If you’re a Chrome Enterprise customer, the managed Google Play store is available for these Chromebooks listed on Chromium.org using Chrome OS version 53 and later.

For Chrome Education, the managed Google Play store is supported on Chrome OS version 56 and later.

Older Chromebooks may require a file system migration and be updated to Chrome OS version 61 or later before they can use Android apps. Learn more about using Android apps on older Chromebooks.

On Chrome OS version 64 and earlier, Google Play apps can't be installed if the User Data device setting is configured to erase all local user info, settings, and state each time the user signs-out.

Enable Android apps on Chrome OS for your domain
Android apps on Chrome OS use the Android and Google Play management framework.

If you enable Android apps and the domain already has an Android for business subscription that uses a third party Enterprise Mobility Manager (EMM) (such as VMware AirWatch® or MobileIron), then the existing subscription and EMM combination is used, but other aspects of managing Android apps on Chrome OS are managed through the Google Admin Console.

If you enable Android apps and the domain doesn’t have an Android for business subscription, one is created automatically and Google Device Manager is selected as the EMM.

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Device managementand thenChrome management.

    If you don't see Device management on the Home page, click More controls at the bottom.

  3. Click Android application settings.
  4. (Optional) If you haven’t already set up Android management for your organization:
    1. Click the Android for Work link.
    2. Accept the Google Play for Work and Education agreement.
  5. Select Enable Android applications to be managed through the Admin Console.
  6. (Optional) Click Billing. Verify that an Android management subscription appears on the billing page.
  7. (Optional) Click Security > Manage EMM provider for Android. Verify that Google Device Manager is listed as your EMM provider. If you already have Google Mobile Management or a third party EMM as your EMM provider, then that provider will be listed, even though Android Apps on Chrome have been enabled.

Note: Enabling Android apps on Chrome OS for your domain does not automatically enable it for individual users. To give users access to the apps you must also enable the apps for organizational units.

(Optional) Monitor forced app installs

You will be able to monitor the success and failures of the installations to users and devices on your network by using the reporting tool found in the Admin console. 

Setup information can be found on the Monitor forced Android app installs page and will provide details such as installation status, filter details and error messages.

Note: The report only shows information for managed users using managed Chrome devices that support managed Google Play.

Install Android apps on Chrome devices

Step 1: Approve apps
  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Device managementand thenChrome management.

    If you don't see Device management on the Home page, click More controls at the bottom.

  3. Click App management.
  4. Use the App Type filter setting to display Android Apps.
  5. Use the Type filter setting to display My Configured Android Apps or Approved Android Apps.
  6. Click Add Approve Android Apps.
  7. Search for, and click the app you’d like to approve.
  8. Click Approve.
  9. To accept the app permissions on behalf of your organization, click Approve.
  10. Click Ok.

You can also approve apps in managed Google Play.

  1. Sign in to managed Google Play, using a managed Google Play administrator account.
  2. Search for, and click the app you’d like to approve.
  3. Click Approve.
  4. To accept the app permissions on behalf of your organization, click Approve.
  5. Click Ok.
  6. (Optional) To view a list of all approved apps for your organization, click My managed apps from the Apps menu.

The managed Google Play help center contains detailed information on how to manage apps and app licenses for use in your organization.

Step 2: Decide how apps are installed

You can specify the type of installation available for each of your approved apps. You can create a subset of apps that users can choose to install, and also create a different subset of apps that the system automatically installs for every user in the organizational unit. You can also allow users to install any app from the managed Google Play store.

Force the installation of approved apps

From the list of apps you approved in managed Google Play, you can choose a subset that the system automatically installs for every user in the organizational unit. When the user logs into the device, the system automatically starts to download these apps.

Note: This policy is independent of any other Android phone or tablet policy you have in place with a third-party EMM. That means that you can have one set of apps configured to force-install on your Android phones and tablets using a third party EMM, and a different set of apps configured to force-install on Chromebooks using the Admin Console.

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Device managementand thenChrome management.

    If you don't see Device management on the Home page, click More controls at the bottom.

  3. Click App Management.
  4. On the left, select Android Apps from the App Type filter menu.
  5. Click the app you want to configure.
  6. Click User settings.
  7. On the left, select the relevant OU from the Orgs tree.
  8. Turn on Force installation.
  9. Turn on Pin to taskbar.
  10. Click Save.

Note: While the apps are being downloaded, the user can see a STOP button. If they press it the download is stopped. Another attempt at installation is made at the next login and install attempts will continue until the apps are successfully installed or until the app is no longer part of the list of apps that are force-installed.

Allow the installation of approved apps

If you don’t want to force the installation of apps you can create a list of apps that your users can voluntarily choose to install. The apps must be selected from the apps that you have approved in managed Google Play.

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Device managementand thenChrome management.

    If you don't see Device management on the Home page, click More controls at the bottom.

  3. Click App Management.
  4. On the left, select Android Apps from the App Type filter menu.
  5. Click the app you want to configure.
  6. Click User settings.
  7. On the left, select the relevant OU from the Orgs tree.
  8. Turn on Allow installation.
  9. Click Save.

Apps configured to allow installation, appear in the Store home section of the managed Google Play store on the users’ devices.

Allow the installation of any app

If you give your users full access to the managed Google Play store, they can search and install any app on their Chrome devices, even ones you haven’t approved.

Note: This feature is not available for any account on an educational domain.

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Device managementand thenChrome management.

    If you don't see Device management on the Home page, click More controls at the bottom.

  3. Click User Settings.
  4. On the left, select the organization where you want to apply the settings. Learn more.
  5. Go to the Android applications section.
  6. From the Access to Android applications menu, select Allow. 
  7. Click Save.
Step 3: Enable Android apps for users in an organization

Before you let Google Play store be installed on Chrome devices, make sure you’ve approved and configured apps for users. Otherwise, they might see an empty Google Play store on their device.

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Device managementand thenChrome management.

    If you don't see Device management on the Home page, click More controls at the bottom.

  3. Click User Settings.
  4. On the left, select the organization where you want to apply the settings. Learn more.
  5. Go to the Android applications section.
  6. From the Android applications on Chrome Devices menu, select Allow.
  7. Click Save.

Settings typically take effect in minutes. But they might take up to an hour to apply for everyone.

Step 4: (Optional) Apply managed configurations to an Android app

Before you begin, you need the managed configuration file you want to apply to the app. This text (.txt) file contains values for the app's configurable settings. For information on the specific settings you can configure for each app, contact the app developer.

Managed configuration files can be applied to force-installed apps only. You can’t use them to specify settings for apps that users choose to install, even if those apps are on an approved apps list.

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Device managementand thenChrome management.

    If you don't see Device management on the Home page, click More controls at the bottom.

  3. Click App Management.
  4. On the left under App Type, select Android Apps.
  5. Click the app you want to configure.
  6. Click User settings.
  7. Select the organization where you want to configure settings. To configure the settings for everyone in the domain, select the top-level organization. Otherwise, select a child organization.
  8. Upload your configuration (.txt) file :
    1. If you selected the top-level organization, go to Configure and click Upload Configuration File.
    2. If you selected a child organization, go to Configure and click Override and then Upload Configuration File.
    3. Select your configuration file and click Open.
    4. Click Save.

Sample configuration files

You must save your configuration files as a text (.txt) files before you can use and upload them. 

The following sample configuration shows how to define a very restrictive blacklist that stops the app from accessing any URL. It also includes a whitelist of specific URLs that the app can access:

{ "com.android.browser:URLBlacklist": "[\"*\"]"
"com.android.browser:URLWhitelist": "[\"www.solamora.com\", \"www.altostrat.com\”]" }

The following sample configuration shows how to specify all supported setting types (boolean, string, array, and object array):

{
"can_say_hello": true,
"message": "Hello, it's me",
"approvals": [ "read", "write" ],
"items": [{ "key": "key1", "value": "1"}, { "key": "key2", "value": "2"}]
}

Verify Android apps are available on users’ devices

Step 1: Check Chrome OS version

Before your users can get Android apps on their Chrome devices, they might need to update their Chromebook software. Make sure that the Chromebook is updated to at least Chrome OS version 53 for Chrome Enterprise  customers or version 56 for Chrome Education customers.

Step 2: Open Google Play

After you enable Android apps for users in your organization, users see Google Play Google Play in the shelf at the bottom or side of the screen on their Chrome device.
  1. On a Chromebook, open Google Play Google Play .
  2. Click Agree to accept the Terms of Service.
Step 3: Get Android apps
Users can install approved apps on their devices from Google Play Google Play.
  1. On a Chromebook, open Google Play Google Play.
  2. Click Menu Menu > Store Home.
  3. Browse or search for the app you want to install.
  4. Click the app you want to install.
  5. Click Install.
  6. (Optional) Review the requested access permissions and click Accept.

To see a list of the Android apps installed on the device, from the Menu Menu, click My work apps or My school apps.

Remove Android apps from Chrome devices

Remove apps
You can remove Android apps that you no longer want on user devices. The next time users sign in to their Chrome device, the app and its associated user data are removed. And, although users can still see the app in the library in Google Play, they can't install it. 

Before you begin

If you give any users access to all apps in Google Play, you can’t modify the Allow installation setting (remove any Android apps) for those users.

Remove an app and its associated user data

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Device managementand thenChrome management.

    If you don't see Device management on the Home page, click More controls at the bottom.

  3. Click App Management.
  4. On the left under App Type, select Android Apps.
  5. Click the app you want to remove.
  6. Click User settings.
  7. Select the organization where you want to remove the app. To remove the app for everyone in the organization, select the top-level organization.
  8. For apps that automatically install on a Chrome device when users sign in, choose an option:
    • If Allow installation is inherited and turned off for the parent organization, turn off Force installation and skip to Step 10.
    • Turn off Force installation and go to step 9.
  9. Turn off Allow installation.
  10. Click OK to acknowledge that the app and associated user data will be deleted from devices.
  11. Click Save.

Remove an app from the Admin Console

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Device managementand thenChrome management.

    If you don't see Device management on the Home page, click More controls at the bottom.

  3. Click App Management.
  4. On the left under App Type, select Android Apps.
  5. Click the title of the app you want to remove.
  6. Click the large app icon.
  7. At Google Play, click UNAPPROVE.
  8. Click OK on the two confirmation windows.
    Note: Users that already have the app installed will continue to be able to use it. 

(Optional) Run an Android app as a kiosk on a Chrome device

For information about how to push Android apps to a Chrome device in locked-down kiosk mode, see Run Android apps as kiosks on Chrome devices.

FAQs

Which Chrome devices support Android apps?

Currently, these Chromebooks support Android apps.
  • For Chrome Enterprise, Android apps are supported on Chrome OS version 53 and later.
  • For Chrome Education, Android apps are supported on Chrome OS version 56 and later.
Note: As an administrator, you need to enable Android apps for your domain before your users can install Android apps on their devices.

Can users install any Android app they want?

As an administrator, you can create and manage a list of approved Google Play apps to use in your organization. You can then choose how you want to install apps, depending on which organizational unit users belong to. Chrome Enterprise admins can also let users search for and install any Android app from the Google Play Store.

After completing all of the setup steps, why doesn’t the Google Play store appear on users’ Chromebooks?

Check the list of supported devices to confirm that the Chromebook supports Android apps. Also, make sure that the Chromebook is updated to at least Chrome OS version 53 for Chrome Enterprise customers or version 56 for Chrome Education customers.
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