Chromebooks are lightweight, fast, and efficient laptops that run on Google’s Chrome OS. They are designed primarily for web-based activities such as browsing the internet, streaming media, and using online apps. However, with the growing popularity of Android applications, many Chromebook users are interested in installing APKs (Android Package Kits) on their devices. APKs allow users to access a wider range of apps than what is available on the Chrome Web Store.
You might want to install APKs of apps for a variety of reasons. For instance, the Play Store doesn’t provide certain Android apps (usually due to geo-restrictions). Because the Google Play Store only installs the most recent version of an app, older versions of a software are frequently only accessible to be tested via APK files.
Google updates take longer to arrive than the APK archives. Android apps can be sideloaded using either Developer Mode or Linux’s ADB. We’ll discuss both methods for opening apk files on a Chromebook.
How to install APKs in Developer Mode
APKs can be swiftly installed on a Chromebook in Developer Mode, but we don’t recommend it. Turning on Developer Mode might cancel the warranty on your Chromebook, just like jailbreaking an iPhone or rooting an Android does (via Chromium).
During the procedure, everything on your Chromebook is also erased (unless it has been cloud-backed up). Google even warns you about potential hardware, software, and security risks each time you start the machine in developer mode.
The process for starting Developer Mode may differ slightly between Chrome OS devices. While some Chromebooks only need keyboard shortcuts to activate Developer Mode, some feature a dedicated physical button. Visit The Chromium Projects and type Developer Mode followed by the model of your Chromebook to find further instructions. Given that, the technique described below should work for the majority of Chromebooks.
- Back up any files you need to the cloud before moving on. Additionally, disconnect every external device that is linked to your Chromebook.
- You can enter recovery mode by hitting the Power button once while simultaneously holding down the Esc and Refresh buttons. Release Esc and click Refresh when the recovery message shows on the screen.
- Ctrl + D activates Developer Mode. When prompted, enter the code.
- Your Chromebook can be restarted in developer mode.
- After turning on Developer Mode, you must sign in again and wait for the settings to sync once more because it logs you out of your Google account.
- Now, the context menu makes it simple to download and set up your APKs.
How to Install APKs on Chromebook Without Developer Mode
Just so you know, this method only works if your Chromebook is capable of running Android and Google Play apps. Additionally, confirm that Chrome OS x86 is installed on your Chromebook. Follow the steps below to update your Chrome OS:
- Navigate to Settings.
- Select the Chrome About link.
- In “Google Chrome OS,” Search for the specific version.
- If your Chrome OS version is older than Chrome OS x86, click Check for Updates.
- Your Chrome OS will receive automatic upgrades.
Additionally, you cannot be in Developer mode or be subscribed to any update channels.
Here’s when it gets fun…
Now, Chromebooks may install APKs without compromising security, erasing data, or invalidating the warranty.
There are two stages involved in installing an APK on a Chromebook without Developer Mode:
- Setting up ADB
- Installing Android APK
Now let’s dive more into them:
Setting up ADB
- Visit the Settings page on your Chromebook. From the option on the left, select Linux (Beta).
- After switching on Linux, open Settings once more.
- Choose Linux, then turn on ADB Debugging under “Develop Android Apps” by clicking the toggle.
- Your Chromebook will restart.
- An ADB prompt will show up following the reboot. Click Allow. In the event that ADB isn’t working, restart the Chromebook. Therefore, it has to work.
- Choose Terminal from your applications, and then type the following command. The utilities for the ADB platform will then be set up. Android-tools-adb can be installed with sudo apt-get -y.
- Connect Chrome OS’s ADB to Linux after the installation is complete, then enter the following command into Terminal: adb connect 100.115.92.2:5555. Make sure your internet connection is reliable for this step.
- You’ll be prompted to give permission to USB debugging. After selecting Always Allow, click OK.
Note: If you get the error message saying “can’t connect to 100.115.92.2:5555 connection rejected,” go to the Google Play Store and choose Manage Android Preferences. then click System, then About Device. Click “Build Number” at least eight times straight to enable Developer Options.
- Navigate to the System page and click on Developer Options. Turn on ADB Debugging.
Note: If you see any of these prompts “Permission Denied” and “Command Not Found“, return to step 7 and type “adb start-server” in Terminal.
Installing APKs on Chromebook
After configuring ADB, you may now quickly install any APK on your Chromebook.
- Download the APK file to the Linux Files tab in My Files.
- Launch Terminal and enter the necessary command to sideload the Android application. The APK file name should be used in place of “filename” in the command “adb install filename.apk”.
- If the error message “more than one device/emulator” appears, type the following command: Install filename.apk with adb -s emulator-5554.
You are now done! Your app drawer on Android now has your app.