Android apps running on Chrome OS are taking a small but significant step becoming much more desktop-friendly, as the next update to Chrome OS will likely include the ability of Android apps to run tasks in parallel.
When running on Chrome OS, Android apps behave as though they are running on a mobile device like a phone or tablet, pausing their state when they aren’t actually on your screen. This makes sense because you can’t see or use them anyway when they’re not in focus, and they’d otherwise be carrying on and draining your battery. So when you’re in mid-backflip in Alto’s Adventure and you accidentally tap that capacitive home button on your HTC U11 (dammit!), you return to the game to find it safely paused. (But let’s be honest, you’ve now lost track of what you’re doing, and Alto’s about to crash on his head.)
But in a desktop environment, this behavior can become a nuisance, as apps that a user would naturally expect to keep running wind up going into suspended animation when they click away. Very un-desktop-like, and probably quite jarring to those who are used to Windows and macOS and new to Chrome OS.
This is about to change, however. As the folks at ChromeUnboxed discovered, Chrome 64 in beta includes a toggle in the developer menu in Android preferences to “enable parallel running of tasks.” Once ticked, Android apps behave like desktop apps. Those streams of live information will continue to pour in even when the app is not in focus. (You may want to remember to pause poor Alto before you click away from him.)
ChromeUnboxed has a video showing multiple Android apps running in parallel, seemingly without issue, on an Acer Chromebook 15 with the beta of Chrome 64. So it probably won’t be long before this feature shows up in the stable release of Chrome 64. It’s a seemingly minor under-the-hood adjustment that could make a big difference in making Android apps on Chrome feel less like a tacked-on feature, and more like a familiar and native aspect of the overall experience.