Developer Mode allows you to sideload Android apps on your Chromebook. However, it also weakens the security of Chrome OS. Though besides Developer Mode, you can also install Android apps from Play Store but it is not supported on all Chromebook models. So, to make it easy for developers to install and test their Android apps on Chromebook, Google extended support for sideloading Android APKs with the release of Chrome OS version 80.
So, after you update your Chromebook to latest version, you will be able to install Android apps using APK files. And you won’t have to compromise the security of the Chromebook anymore. You just have to switch your Chromebook from Stable to Dev Channel. It won’t wipe your data either, so, it’s not a risky choice.
Install or Sideload Android APKs on Chromebook Without Developer Mode
So, as mentioned above, you have to switch your Chromebook to Dev Channel to sideload APKs. And the best part is, it won’t wipe your precious data. You just need to make sure to install latest update of Chrome OS. Let’s check the steps in details.
Step 1: Switch your Chromebook to Dev Channel
In order to switch to Dev channel, go to Settings > About Chrome OS > Additional Settings. Here change the Chrome OS channel from Stable to Developer – unstable.
After that go back to About Chrome OS page and check for updates to install the latest update automatically. Now, you will be on Dev channel with latest release.
Step 2: Enable Linux on your Chromebook to Sideload Android Apps
After switching to Dev channel, you also have to enable Linux on your Chromebook. For that, go to Settings and select Linux (Beta) from left pane and click Turn on.
Step 3: Enable ADB Debugging in Chrome OS
After you have successfully set up Linux on your Chromebook, it’s time to enable ADB debugging. For that, go to Settings > Linux (Beta) > Develop Android Apps and enable toggle for “Enable ADB Debugging“.
After that you need to restart your Chromebook. You will see an ADB prompt after reboot, click Allow to allow ADB debugging. Now, you are almost ready to sideload Android apps via APKs on your Chromebook.
NOTE: In some cases, you might not able to turn on Enable ADB debugging toggle. In such scenarios, you will have to reset or powerwash your Chromebook.
Step 4: Install ADB Tools and Connect Android System with Linux on your Chromebook
Next, we will have to install ADB platform tools on Chromebook. You can use Terminal on your Chromebook to install ADB tools. Use following command to install ADB tools on your Chromebook.
sudo apt-get install android-tools-adb
You might also need to press “Y” when prompted. It may take some time depending upon the network speed. After that you can connect Android system with Linux on Chrome OS using ADB tools.
Run following command to connect Android system with Linux on your Chromebook. You will need active internet connection to perform this task.
adb connect 100.115.92.2:5555
NOTE: If you get “Permission Denied” or “Command Not Found” error, then run
adb start-server command first and then run
adb conect command (as mentioned above) again.
Step 5: Allow USB Debugging in Chromebook
After you run
adb connect command on your Chromebook, you will see a pop-up asking you to allow USB debugging. Now, enable the checkbox for “Always allow from this computer” and click OK.
Now, we are ready with the base. We can now install or sideload Android apps using APK files on Chromebook.
NOTE: If you get “can’t connect to 100.115.92.2:5555 connection refused” error, then go to Settings and select Apps from the left pane. After that go to Google Play Store > Manage Android Preferences > System > About Device. Now, click on “Build number” for 7-8 times continuously to enable Developer Options. After that go back to System page and select Developer Options. Here, enable ADB Debugging to solve this error.
Step 6: Download and Move APK Files to Linux
Finally, you can now sideload Android apps using APK files on your Chromebook without Developer Mode. First of all, download the APK file of the app that you want to install and move it to Linux Files using File Manager. In this tutorial we have used, Firefox APK. We have also renamed the APK file to
firefox.apk for simplicity.
Step 7: Install Android App on Chromebook using APK File
Now, it’s time to install selected APK file on Chromebook. We can install Android APKs on Chromebook using ADB commands in Terminal. So, type following command and press Enter to install Firefox APK. You can install your app by replacing
firefox.apk with your APK’s name.
adb install firefox.apk
Step 8: Run Android App on Chromebook
After successfully installing Android APK on your Chromebook, it’s time to test it. So, open App drawer and look for the app you just installed. You can run the app from there. Similarly, you can install more Android APKs on your Chromebook.
Install or Sideload Android APKs on Your Chromebook
Above tutorial explained how you can sideload Android apps on Chromebooks. That too without enabling Developer Mode. Just make sure that you are running Chrome OS 80 or newer. And the best part of using Linux for Android app is that it uses ART (Android Run Time) framework to enhance Android performance. So, you will not face any performance related issues with your Android apps.
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