The 2016 decision to bring the Android Play Store to Google Chromebooks immediately and fundamentally altered the Chromebook. Overall Android app user experience and performance will be one of the key factors that will play into purchase decisions at schools and business.
Shrout Research shows that Android applications from the Play Store can and do perform very differently when running on Chromebooks with different hardware platforms. Testing similar Chromebooks, one that uses an ARM-based platform and another with an Intel x86 platform, we found that platform selection has a critical impact on user experience. Differences ranging from substantial start up time gaps to basic operability and stability of software were seen with the advantage going to the ARM-based hardware.
Power consumption will vary from system to system, but a long-term evaluation of battery drain between the ARM-based and Intel-based Chromebooks in our testing indicates important differences. An average of 11.5% less power is used to complete the same tasks in Android Play Store applications for the ARM platform. This directly equates to longer battery life and more usable system time between required recharges.
Though both hardware platforms have the performance capability to run Android Play Store applications, the ARM-centric history of Android hardware has led to a defacto optimization of software for ARM processors, including SoCs from vendors like Rockchip, Qualcomm, Samsung, MediaTek, and others. The result is an environment that sees considerable value and advantage in ARM-based hardware over the competition.