Over the past few years a number of companies have tried to turn Google Android into a desktop (or TV-focused) operating system by adding support for multi-window mode, among other things. Most recently, Chinese startups have launched Android-based operating systems like Remix OS and Phoenix OS which add a taskbar, desktop, and Windows-like multi-window functionality to Android.

But now that Google is bringing support for Android apps to Chrome OS, is there a future for those operating systems?


remix os
AOC all-in-one PC with Remix OS

David Ko is co-founder of Jide, the company that develops Remix OS. Here’s what he had to say about Google’s move:

It’s exciting news to us because it represents an overall trend in computing that aims to merge mobile apps with the desktop environment. The benefits and limits of mobility as well as the desktop are clear and bridging the two is now a priority even for the big brands. We’re really glad there are more players coming into this space because it continues to validate what we set out to do two years ago. More options are better for consumers because it’ll drive the pace of innovation, and at the end of the day, the market grows and consumers win.

Of course, you wouldn’t exactly expect Jide to announce it was closing up shop after spending years working on an operating system which is starting to gain traction.

But given a choice between using a Chromebook or Chromebox that includes a full desktop web browser with support for extensions and web apps and access to over a million Android apps from the Google Play Store, or an operating system that just runs Android apps… well, Chrome OS looks pretty good.

chrome play_07
Chrome OS with the Google Play Store

On the other hand, there are a few situations where Remix OS and Phoenix OS might have an edge: the Play Store isn’t as important in China, as the US and Europe, for example, which could make Chrome OS + Android less appealing in that country.

You can also easily download and install the Remix or Phoenix on most recent PCs.

Sure, you can also install Chromium OS, the open source version of Chrome OS on a PC. But I doubt you’ll get full support for Android apps that way. At the very least, you’re unlikely to get the Google Play Store (although to be fair, the Play Store isn’t included with Remix OS or Phoenix OS for PCs either… you need to sideload it yourself).

Overall, David Ko is right: Google’s decision to bring Android apps to Chromebooks brings more competition to the Android apps-on-laptop-or-desktop computer space. Whether that proves to be good for companies like Jide or Phoenix remains to be seen. But it’ll probably be good for users, either way.


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19 replies on “With Android apps coming to Chrome OS, is there room for Remix OS or Phoenix OS?”

  1. A lot of people are having issues even getting remix to work at all for me when I tried on my hard disk it froze on the boot screen for a good while before I gave up when I tried on my usb stick it wen’t back and forth between loading between the loading acreen and the upgrading bar plus black screen off and on

  2. I would propose is that there is a case to be made for no more Chrome OS. Build it all into Android and be done with it….

  3. well all in all Remix holds the advantage of being available on all hardware. My only issue with it is video out doesn’t work

  4. I’m actually on Android 4.4 on my PC via the x86 LiveCD right now (not RemixOS). It’s running on a 1.6ghz duoCore, 2007 laptop with 4gb RAM – exceptionally fast! Except for the common issues we’re all aware of, it’s not a bad experience compared to “real desktops”. (I run alots of alternative OSes too – Haiku, Icaros, eComstation, DOS, many lesser known ones as well as Windows, etc) – The Android Desktop experience can actually be quite a force in comparison to what’s out there – especially for the masses…

    I think having AndroidApps available on Chromebooks will actually help RemixOS. Developmental focus on large screen devices will (hopefully) increase. Resizable windows and better multitasking is already in the future. I can see lots of people preferring Android Desktop (ease of use, tight integration of apps/services) over working within a Browser (plus apps).

    I still prefer a real Desktop and their more powerful applications but we might even see larger, more complex apps for Android begin to “surface” as a result of this recent move. I know that Jide partnered with android-x86.org but looking over their website recently, it’s not clear if they plan on developing a LiveCD – one that runs entirely in RAM. android-x86.org‘s offerings are pretty cool – rooted, terminal access. Even without an account, I can still access f-droid and take any app for a spin, wreck havoc within the terminal… only a reboot away from clearing any damage.

    If RemixOS follows android-x86.org‘s lead (LiveCD, rooted, Terminal maybe integrate f-droid or other 3rd-party site) and can add persistence (preferably encrypted persistence) of installed apps and data, it’s a great way to get RemixOS into the hands of more people. PuppyLinux does an excellent job of leading user’s, by the hand, in creating their first persistent file (the only distro that I’m aware that does so as a default via LiveCD).

    1. I’d just like to point out that Remix comes rooted, with a built in (but disabled) terminal, and on a LiveCD

  5. To be honest I think Jide and Remix both can number their days. Though you do have a point that they might carve out a niche in markets where Google does not officially have offerings. And China is not a small market either.
    The bigger question is how this will impact Windows really.
    Also it’s clear that Android N – regardless of Chrome OS – will have desktop capabilities. It is coming with a new mouse API if I remember correctly. Also it will bring free from window sizing of Android apps.
    So OEMs which want to differentiate more could well build desktop systems with Android. However I’ll personally be sticking with Chrome OS probably. Then I can count on updates. Also the power of the desktop Chrome browser, and of the web in general, is pretty awesome.

    1. Remix OS for PC has never had access to the Play Store. You’ve always had to sideload it.

      Remix OS for the Remix Mini lost it in the most recent update. But the Remix Ultra Tablet still has it.

      (Notice where the via link in that Slashgear article points?)

      1. OK, keep me straight. Hopefully, google will add controller patches to turn the Chromebook into a mini game console.

    2. But they include an app in the update that lets you sideload playstore in 3 clicks.

  6. I am hoping for a method that lets me use Android apps within Linux Mint without using an emulator. Sure, I could install Chrome, but I do not want to use Chrome. I use Firefox. I am picky that way. 😉

    1. This is available only for Chrome OS as of now. So chrome browser on Windows/OSX/Linux will not help.

  7. This would be amazing if the feature was coming to all Chrome OS devices. Many devices are still not on the list like the Acer Chromebook 11 and the Asus Chromebox M004u. Both devices which are more than capable of running Android apps. 🙁 The one announcement I was waiting for all week, tainted.

    1. Agreed. Do not understand why it is not coming to all devices with sufficient power. I have an i3, 4gb RAM, 16 GB drive Asus Chromebox. Nope not on the list. Would be nice to know why it won’t run Android apps.

      1. From the limited amount I’ve read, it’s not a power issue (note that the original pixel version is absent too). It’s a combination of an age cut-off (nothing prior to 2014) and current touchscreen support. However, they are going to implement a methodology of saying “my app doesn’t need touchscreen support” before the end of the year.

      2. clearly it’s not an issue of power then, but probably the architecture of updates, or OEM customizations. Who knows, either way Google is adding this for free. It was never promised to anyone when they originally bought their devices. There was only speculation

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