Chrome OS is often characterized (somewhat unfairly) as just a glorified web browser; and if your needs involve powerful photo editing tools like Photoshop, video editing packages like Adobe Premiere or Apple's Final Cut Pro X, modeling tools with complicated features like Blender or Solidworks, or an assortment of other powerful software tools, it's not hard to see how that perception came to be. Software development is another area where things aren't too rosy – unless you're a web developer. However, a clue has popped up that suggests Android Studio may be coming to Chrome OS.
The clue comes from a commit to the Chromium source repository that makes clear references to Android Studio and installing the necessary 32-bit libraries to launch it. Further notes mention the installation of a start script that ensures Android Studio supports Wayland, a replacement for X11 that played a big role in getting good performance out of Android apps running on Chrome OS.
At present, Android developers must turn to Windows, macOS, or Linux (or conceivably Android) to build apps. Chrome OS remains the only "desktop" operating system without a viable method, so it's certainly good to see Google working to close that gap.
Like many full-featured IDEs, Android Studio is fairly resource intensive. This may pose a problem for many current Chromebook models which were manufactured with very middling specs and sold at low prices. Seeing as the top-of-the-line Chromebook Pixels are probably a thing of the past, this could drive some demand for the currently small lineup of models offering 8GB of RAM and above.
The initial source commit was made just a few days ago and includes only some very rudimentary pieces and the commit refers to this project as "WIP" (work-in-progress). It's not clear if there may be more code already written behind the scenes or if development only got off the ground in the last week. Based on what can be seen, I would doubt a release date is coming in the very near future. Google I/O could possibly bring a developer preview, or even just an announcement.
- Chromium source commit
Alternate title: After a couple years of teasing people with a promo image of Android Studio on a Chromebook, Google might actually make it happen