How to Develop Android Apps on a Chromebook in 2020

Published: August 9, 2020
By Anthony
5 min read
How to Develop Android Apps on a Chromebook in 2020

Developing Android Apps on a Chromebook haven't been easier in 2020. I tested this out on a HP x2 Chromebook, but I would recommend a better machine. Mobile development generally requires a pretty good machine (like an i5 Pixelbook Go) in order to compile and build the project quickly. Check out my list of Best Chromebooks for Programming if you're not sure which Chromebook to use. If you already have a Chromebook, make sure the device is compatible with Crostini since this tutorial assumes you're using Crostini.


Make sure you follow the steps in Setting Up Java, Python, Node, React, and Angular on a Chromebook to set up Crostini. You'll only need to follow the steps under "Set up Linux (Crostini) on your Chromebook". Once that's complete, come back to this tutorial.

Setting Up Android Studio

Setting up Android Studio to write native apps on a Chromebook is relatively simple, you'll just need to download Android Studio.

Download Android Studio

Get started by downloading Android Studio. You'll find the .deb file under your Downloads folder. Double click it in order to install it.

Enabling ADB

Since the Chromebook can run Android apps, you can actually build and run the Android app on the Chromebook itself. In the settings app, go to the linux section.

Enabling ADB

Click the "Develop Android Apps" section and toggle the feature on. You'll need to reboot the device to activate the feature.

Enabling ADB

Verifying Android Studio is Setup Properly

After enabling ADB, you can create a sample project in Android Studio and run the app. It took almost 20 minutes for Gradle to complete the very first build. I suspect this has to do with my Chromebook having 4GB of RAM. If everything is setup correctly, you'll see the Android app running like the screenshot below.

Android Studio with Android App

You'll also see the Android app will appear in your App Tray.

Android App in App Tray

Setting Up Flutter

After testing out Android Studio for native Android development, I was curious to see if you could use Flutter on a Chromebook as well and it turns out you can. Flutter is a framework that lets you write a mobile application once and it will generate an iOS and Android app. Flutter recently got support for Web as well, but it's still in beta. Make sure you follow the steps to set up Android Studio or else this won't work. You can find the official doc for installing Flutter here.

Installing the Flutter SDK

First download the Flutter SDK by clicking on this link. Make sure you move the SDK from your Downloads folder to your Linux files folder.

Flutter SDK

After you download the SDK, open up your terminal and type in the following commands. This will extract the binary.

mkdir development
cd ~/development
tar xf ~/flutter_linux_1.20.1-stable.tar.xz

Next open up your ~/.bashrc file and add the following code to it. This will make it easier to run the flutter commands whenever we have a new terminal instance. If you already have a PATH export, add it to the existing PATH export.

export PATH="$PATH:`pwd`/development/flutter/bin"

After updating the ~/.bashrc file, make sure to run source ~/.bashrc.

Flutter Bashrc

Verifying the Flutter SDK is Installed

Run the following command to verify you installed Flutter correctly.

which flutter

You should see something like /home/ironman/development/flutter/bin/flutter printed to the terminal. If nothing is printed then you most likely made a mistake earlier.

Verifying Flutter SDK

Downloading Development Binaries

Run the following commands to make sure we get all the requirement dependencies. Running flutter doctor will verify your environment and make sure you have everything needed to run Flutter properly. When you run flutter doctor --android-licenses, you'll need to accept a couple of licensing agreements.

Verifying Flutter Doctor
flutter precache
flutter doctor
flutter doctor --android-licenses

After running those commands, you'll see running flutter doctor outputs something like the screenshot below. Don't worry if you see an exclamation mark by Android Studio.

Verifying Flutter Doctor after installing dependencies

Also make sure you have ADB setup correctly by running flutter devices. You'll see your device's name printed in the terminal.

Flutter Devices

Setting Up an IDE

I presonally don't like using Android Studio since it's a memory hog so I use VSCode instead. Make sure you download the .deb file instead of the .rpm file. After installing VSCode, install the Flutter Extension.

VSCode Flutter Extension

Creating your First Flutter App

Flutter makes it super easy to create a new project. Just run the following command in the terminal and it'll automatically generate a new project.

Create Flutter Project
flutter create flutterapp
cd flutterapp/
flutter run

After running flutter run, you'll see the sample app after the project successfully builds. Unfortunately, you won't be able to test out the iOS counterpart unless you have a Mac since you need xCode which is exclusive to MacOS.

Running a Flutter App


There you have it! You're now ready to make native Android apps and Flutter apps on your Chromebook. If you enjoyed this article please leave a comment in the comments section below.

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