Use Android apps on older Chromebooks

This article applies to Chrome devices for education and enterprise administrators.

Starting with Chrome OS version 60, many older Chrome devices started supporting Android apps.. To run these apps on older Chrome devices, migrate user profile data to Android N’s file system. To minimize disruption to users and prevent unintentional data loss, plan the migration carefully.

Schools that don't intend to use Android apps on older Chromebooks should keep the No file-system migration setting in the Admin console. However, to enable Android on older devices, decide which migration path works best for your organization and migrate your devices to the new file system.

Steps to using Android apps with Chrome devices

Step 1: Select the devices to turn on for Android apps

Inventory the types of devices you have and those you want to enable for Android apps. Most devices launched in 2017 and later don't require migration. Chrome devices with Android fit into 2 categories:

Category 1: Newer devices (launched with Android N)

See this Chromium page. These devices without a star (*) support Android on the stable channel. They natively support Android apps on Chrome OS and need no migration. For these devices, skip step 2 in this article. Instead, follow these steps to enable Android applications on Chrome Devices.

Category 2: Older devices getting Android N for the first time

See this Chromium page. The devices listed with a star (*) require migration before your users can run Android apps on these Chromebooks. If you manage devices in this list on Chromium, see the following steps for migrating user profile data.

Step 2: Migrate your user profile data

User-created profiles on devices after Chrome version 60 or 61 already use a compatible file system and won't need any migration.

The file system migration moves all data in the user profile, which can take more than 10 minutes per user profile. So, it's hard to say how long it takes to migrate the user profiles on a large number of devices. Choose the best option for your organization, testing the migration on a small organizational unit before rolling it out fleet-wide.

Before you begin: To turn the service on or off for a set of users, put their accounts in an organizational unit.

  1. Sign in to the Google Admin console.
  2. From the Admin console dashboard, go to Device management.
  3. On the left, click Chrome management.
  4. Click User settings
  5. Scroll down to the Android applications section to find the File System Migration setting.
  6. Choose one of the following options and click Save

Option 1: Wipe data on migration

This wipes any data stored in a user profile at the next login. We recommend this option for most schools. It works well for those with younger students and in shared environments where important data gets saved to the cloud (for example, in Google Drive).

IMPORTANT: You’ll wipe the data on the device. So before selecting this option, make sure to instruct your students and teachers to back up anything stored locally on the Chromebook, such as photos and video.

Let the Chromebook update to Chrome OS version 61 or later. When the user recreates their profile, it will be in the new Ext4 file system encryption—compatible with Android N.

Option 2: User choice

For business employees or schools with one student per Chromebook, you can consider this option. Once each user's Chromebook updates to Chrome OS version 61 or later, they decide if they want to go through the migration process when they start up the device. They can't use Android apps until they go through the migration.

Option 3: Force users to migrate

This feature is appropriate for enterprise customers, but not recommended for most schools. Selecting this option forces your users to migrate their user profile to the Ext4 filesystem when they try to sign in to their account on an older Chromebook.

To determine the status of Android apps support on other Chrome devices, continue to consult the list of Chrome OS Systems Supporting Android Apps.


What action should I take?

Most IT Administrators who don't need Android apps should keep the default option of No file-system migration selected. However, if you want users on older Chrome devices to use Android apps on their Chromebooks, follow the instructions outlined in this article.

How does file system migration affect my devices?

This migration is for Android N compatibility only. It won’t affect how the Chromebook operates.

How long does a migration take?

On average, it takes one to 10 minutes (or more) per Chromebook when the user first signs in after the device has  updated to Chrome OS version 61. The migration depends on the amount of data stored locally in the user profile.

If I pick User choice, what happens if a user opts against the migration?

After login, users can choose whether to migrate their profile data or skip the migration until the next login. If they choose to migrate, they get blocked from using the device until the migration completes. If they skip, they can use the device immediately. But if they want to use any Android apps, they must finish the migration process.

Does this migration apply to only managed devices?

No. The file system migration is a User setting just like enabling Android apps on Chromebooks. This means that the setting applies to managed accounts, not devices.

Does this migration affect any of the other Android-supporting Chromebooks?

No, only the above-listed devices are affected. The newer Chrome devices listed on this page are not affected by this announcement.

I have devices listed as needing migration. Some users see prompts to migrate, others get Android apps immediately. Why?

Local user profiles created on the device with an older version of Chrome OS (prior to 60 or 61) will need migration. Profiles created by a newer version of Chrome OS already support Android N and don't need migration.

Depending on when the user’s profile was created on the device, they may never need to migrate. Also, removing a user’s profile from a device and then logging in again creates a new profile that doesn't require migration.

Are Chrome devices running as a kiosk affected?

Chrome kiosk apps aren't affected by the migration. Android kiosk apps will be migrated silently in the background.

What if I have devices in my organization that span different categories?

First determine which categories your devices fall into. For example, if you have ASUS Chromebook Flip C213 (newer 2017 device) and ASUS Chromebook C202SAs (older device), the Flip C213 won’t need any data migration for Android apps, but the C202SA will.

You have a couple of options, depending on which devices you want Android apps enabled on:

  • If you only want them on your newer C213, just enable Android apps on Chromebooks and set the file system migration setting to No file-system migration. This turns on Android apps for your C213 but not your C202SA.
  • If you want Android apps on both devices, enable Android apps on Chromebooks and set the file system migration to one of the options listed above.
What happens if I upgrade the file system, activate Android apps, then disable the Android app activation?

The file system migration can't be rolled back. Your users wouldn't have access to Android apps, but their file systems would remain on Ext4.


This article was last updated on April 26, 2018

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