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Guidelines for deploying Android apps on Chromebooks

Recommendations for deploying Android apps in a school

For admins who manage Android apps on Chromebooks in a school.

As an admin, you can use the Google Admin console to deploy and manage Android apps on Chromebooks in the classroom. You can control which apps students can install on devices, automatically install certain apps, and delete apps that you no longer use.

Web apps are a natural fit for schools due to their cross-platform availability and ease of deployment. We recommend that educational software developers and schools use web apps when possible. Android apps from the Google Play Store are also supported on Chromebooks, but might not share some of the same benefits and affordances. You can find many apps and extensions, along with data and accessibility policy information on the Chromebook App Hub.

Things to consider when using Android apps on Chromebooks

Android apps are installed on the device

  • Android apps are installed on the local filesystem, so students can use them when they’re offline.
  • Android apps consume device storage capacity, and some apps store files on the device (not online, which could impact shared device deployments).

Android apps vary in size

  • You need to thoroughly test and accurately forecast space and installation time requirements.
  • In environments where devices are shared by multiple students, classes might be delayed if a large Android app needs to be installed by all students at the same time.

Android apps are deployed from the Google Play Store

  • Some Android apps are not optimized for all device types.
  • After you choose an Android app that you want to deploy, test it on a small number of managed Chromebooks before you deploy it to a classroom or the entire school.
  • Choose Android apps carefully and ensure that they comply with relevant policies and regulations.

For instructions about how to select and deploy Android apps, read Deploy Android apps to managed users on Chromebooks.

Guidelines for deployment planning

1. Consider how you want to deploy apps

We recommend that you choose Android apps carefully and allocate them narrowly to the specific group of students that need them. 

  • If an app has Android and web options, try the web app first. You can use the Admin console to deploy Android and web apps to users.
  • Only enable Android apps for Chromebooks if you plan to deploy Android apps. Students can only see the Android apps that you have approved. So, if you don't approve any Android apps, they will see an empty managed Play Store on their devices.
  • Sometimes, admins use Force install to automatically install all approved apps for all students. While this approach works for URLs and Chrome extensions, be careful with Android apps because some are large. Instead, we recommend that you use Allow install for Android apps.
  • Because some Android apps save user files locally (not online), try to lean towards a 1:1 assignment of devices, where each student gets their own device. Or, use shared devices that are numbered so that students always use the same device.

2. Research app requirements

Android apps vary in purpose and resource requirements. Some apps might work best with touchscreens or stylus, auto-rotate, or prefer a certain resolution. Others might require a constant internet connection or minimum amount of memory. 

  • Visit the app’s website or their page on the Chromebook App Hub to understand the recommended minimum system requirements. Check that your device fleet meets the requirements.
  • Generally, we recommend that you deploy Android apps to devices that have at least 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage.
  • All Chromebooks launched after 2019 support Android apps. For a list of Chromebooks that were launched before 2019 and support Android apps, see Chrome OS systems supporting Android apps.

3. Align your deployment approach to your resources

We recommend that you carefully plan your deployment to ensure that it does not disrupt classes and assessments.

The most important use case that you need to consider is the time of first sign-in. It is disruptive to a classroom if a teacher needs to wait for an app installation that takes up half of the allocated class time. You can't preinstall apps for all students because app deployment is a user policy. Settings are tied to the user profile and are activated when the student logs in to a device. 

  • For recommendations on bandwidth, read Enterprise networking for Chrome devices.
  • If your school’s per-class network bandwidth is slow, consider creative ways to have users perform first device login outside instructional periods.
  • Test roll out of Android apps in a few classrooms, and then expand slowly.

4. Let students manually install Android apps from the managed Play Store

We strongly recommend that you plan your deployments using Allow Install. That way, you can create a list of specific apps that your students can easily access from the managed Google Play store on their device. Students don’t have access to all the Android apps in the Play Store, only the ones that you allow. Let teachers know which Android apps are available to them. If they choose to use them in their lessons they can instruct students to download them. If not, their students' devices don't consume storage unnecessarily.

Apps that you force install are automatically installed on devices and ready to use without any user interaction. This is particularly useful for younger students. However, given the potential to consume significant network and device resources, try to minimize the amount of Android apps that you force install.

5. Optimize constantly

We recommend that you keep a close eye on user feedback and keep optimizing your deployment. Try to avoid scenarios that put unnecessary load on your resources during instructional periods.

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