A Chromebook has a newer version of Android than almost every phone.
If you want to check out the latest features for Android as soon as you can you know what phone to buy: The
Android 7.1.1 for Chromebooks is available right now if you're willing to run Chrome Canary.
A disclaimer is in order. the Chromebook Plus only has Android 7.1.1 if you run the ChromeOS Canary build. We're not sure exactly when it will come to more usable branches or even to the stable build, but know that Google is focusing on getting Android on Chrome to the latest version and keeping it there when Android is updated. I don't recommend anyone who has a
A look back at the
Cool new features need cool new devices to test them on.
This addresses a major problem that isn't new or unique to Chromebooks — how to handle legacy applications with no support for new features. It also means the Chromebook Plus is a perfect tool for developers who want to update existing apps or write new ones that support the latest version of Android.
This will carry on when
This is happening because of how the software on a Chromebook is updated. Samsung has the final say before any updates come to the stable channel, but it doesn't get to decide how these updates are built or what features they will include. The manufacturer can install an app or extension (most don't, but ASUS has) on top and certainly has some input on what goes into a new version but the system, including the Android version, is from Google. This is probably why not every Chromebook gets updated at the same time, but it also means that every one of them will be feature by feature identical.
We would hate this on our phones but expect it in a laptop. Every computer running
We expect every laptop from Apple or Microsoft to have the same features, and Chromebooks follow suit.
I also have a pretty good feeling inside that Samsung and Google are working together on the whole multi-window experience for Android, because it's pretty important for both companies. Samsung has great support for sizable floating windows, but only for apps developed specifically to support it. It's really improved and a cool feature on the new
Maybe we'll see a large-format device from Google later in 2017. Maybe not. But the next version of Samsung's Android software will be better because of the Chromebook Plus. And so will everyone else's.