Blog Post

Want to build Chrome or Android apps from a Chromebook? Now you can

For the longest time, Google’s(S GOOG) app strategy has had a bit of a somewhat strange twist: You couldn’t easily create apps for Chrome or Android without a full computer. That means using a Chromebook to create Chrome apps required an online IDE or other tools for some purposes. Now Google has a Chrome app to essentially create Chrome apps which can be deployed to an Android phone or tablet. Say hello to the Chrome Dev Editor, notes Google’s François Beaufort.


The new Chrome app, formally known as Spartk,  is in a developer preview so there’s still work to be done. You can, however, see where Google is going with its overall app strategy as the Chrome Dev Editor supports app creation through HTML, Javascript and Dart; Google’s Javascript-like language that it introduced in 2011. The Chrome Dev Editor also includes Polymer templates for your app’s user interface as well as Git support for version control.

Tic Tac Toe

At last week’s Google I/O developer event, Google showed off an example of how to create and deploy an app using the Chrome Dev Editor. I didn’t attend that session but Google shows the step-by-step process of developing a simple Tic-Tac-Toe app in a code lab here. First, the 3 x 3 grid is set up and formatted using HTML and CSS. Next comes the JavaScript needed to actually play the game. Once the app is working in a browser, an Android app called the Chrome App Dev Tool is installed on a connected Android device, which helps deploy Tic-Tac-Toe to the phone or tablet.

Chrome Dev Editor mobile deploy

The end result is both a web app for the Chrome Web store as well as an Android app that could be uploaded to the Google Play Store. And it can all be done from any computer that runs Chrome — since all Chrome apps work when the Chrome framework is present — or a Chrome OS device. It’s early days yet as there are still more features that developers might want to see in the Chrome Dev Editor but it’s a start, not to mention one less potential reason for app makers to need a full computer to build software.

For those interested in the inner workings of the Chrome Dev Editor itself, Google explained it in a 45-minute session at Google I/O, which you can watch below.

6 Responses to “Want to build Chrome or Android apps from a Chromebook? Now you can”

  1. Erik Nauman

    As a middle school tech educator I see great potential here. We are bringing Chromebooks into the middle school grades and this looks like a perfect way to introduce HTML, CSS, and a little JavaScript to students. After a quick look the environment looks really easy to handle.

    • Erik that’s exactly what I’m using the app for: some self-education on HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. While this is still a developer preview, it looks pretty solid for that use. Wish your students luck in their programming endeavors for me!

    • So I didn’t outline the details of Dart here; perhaps I should have so we didn’t have name calling. ;)

      Dart can be very complementary to JavaScript and its apps can be compiled to JavaScript, so Google isn’t suggesting you have to replace JS with Dart. As for why: it has to do partly with speed and efficiency; not necessarily bad things on their own.

      For more information:

    • Kenny Strawn

      Dart has several (compiled) Java/C#-like features, like class inheritance, main functions, mixins, etc. that JavaScript clearly doesn’t… ah, but still retains JavaScript’s dynamically-typed nature. In other words, it’s as easy to code as JavaScript but at the same time (at least) as powerful as C#…