How to fix Android 11 issues on a Chromebook

Yesterday I noticed that some Chromebooks waiting for the Stable Channel version of Chrome OS 90 are getting the software update. For these devices, especially those built on “hatched” tables, users observed many problems related to Android apps. Since these Chromebooks are the first to receive the Android 11 update, with a new runtime environment, I’m not surprised. And I saw the problems for myself this morning, but I was able to solve them. Here’s how to fix Android 11 issues on a Chromebook.

To be clear, even when the apps work fine in Android 11, I’m not convinced that the approach is really optimized. The responsiveness of the application seems slower to me than before the update. Hope other optimizations in the future will fix this issue.

Before I explain what I did, here’s a quick recap of the Android 11 issues people encountered after updating their Chromebooks. For some, the Play Store wouldn’t even load. For others, Android apps won’t launch or keep crashing. And in some of the worst solutions, Chromebooks seem to freeze during or after the upgrade process.

This morning I updated a “hatch” device, the Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook with a 10th gen Core i3 and 4 GB of memory to Chrome OS 90. After installing the update and restarting the computer ‘device, fans went crazy and “stuff” was downloaded when I activated the Google Play Store. I say “things” because the notification panel showed me download activity, but the text descriptions were completely empty. Obviously, this is not a good sign or a good user experience.

After a reboot, it took me three more reboots before I could connect to the Chromebook. It is very strange behavior. Once I was able to use the Chromebook, I encountered Android app crashes.

From what I reported yesterday, that some reddit users deleted and re-enabled the google play store i tried this. And it worked for me. I am now able to run apps in Android 11 on my Chromebook without any issues so far other than some general sluggishness.

I liken this behavior to two things.

First of all, Android 11 uses something called ARCVM as its runtime environment. This approach uses a software container to run Android apps, just like the container used to run Linux apps. This adds a resource overload, which could be related to the performance of the Android app I am seeing.

Second, this Chromebook I’m using only has 4GB of memory. And that’s pretty much everything used with the three Android apps that I ran simultaneously in testing. I don’t even use the Chrome browser. Again, I’m expecting performance optimizations and I’m not suggesting that you’ll need 8GB of memory in a Chromebook to run Android apps in the future. Although more RAM is always useful. 😉

There is one more thing that might help you if you are still having trouble with the Android 11 app on your Chromebook with Chrome OS 90. Reset all your flags to chrome://flags would also have helped. I didn’t do this, for what it’s worth.

If you have Chrome OS 90 with Android 11 let me know if you have encountered any issues. Like I said yesterday, I think the initial issues tend to be with Chromebooks that migrate from Android 9 to Android 11. It’s just my gut feeling based on what I’ve researched and experienced, well sure.


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