When Google announced the Chromebook Pixel with high resolution touchscreen last week I noted that there was something missing. Namely, I think the device would greatly benefit from the ability to run Android apps, which are already touch-optimized. Sure you can navigate the web via touch — we do that with tablets and phones today — but I’m really not using the touchscreen for that on the Pixel unit I’m reviewing. Android app support would change that. However, it turns out you can run Android on the Pixel, or on practically any other device with an x86 chip inside.
The software solution is called Android-x86 and I actually used it in 2009. Back then, I installed Android 1.6 in all of its ugliness on an Intel Core Solo Ultra Mobile PC with 7-inch display. The touchscreen on that device didn’t work for Android and sadly, even with the new build of Android-x86, the Pixel’s touchscreen isn’t yet working either. Brad Linder over at his Liliputing site gave it a go on the Pixel to confirm.
Still, the touch capabilities could be implemented through updated driver support in the build, so I’ll be watching for further development. And I may give this a try anyway since the supported version of Android is 4.2 Jelly Bean. The difference between that and Android 1.6 is like the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette and the old Pinto we owned in the early 1970s, both in performance and looks.
To run Android 4.2 on a laptop, you don’t have to remove your current operating system. Instead, if your computer can boot from a USB stick, you can run a live CD, which boots into and runs Android directly from the USB device. When you’re done tinkering with Android on your laptop, you simply shut down, pull the USB key and reboot back into your native operating system.