Chrome OS will finally support ADB access for Android in Developer Mode

By | 9th March 2018

Chrome OS first gained support for Android apps almost two years ago. Last year, Play Store support was enabled for most Chromebooks. Since then, we have seen many improvements to the user experience of Android apps in Chrome OS. Features such as a floating keyboard, split screen, lock screen notifications, and more are being added to Chrome OS. A touch-optimized version of Google Chrome is also in development.

However, that doesn’t mean the OS has attained feature parity. Android still has plenty more features than Chrome OS, and currently, it’s a more touch-optimized operating system. Chrome OS recently added true multitasking for Android apps, and now, new commits in the Chromium Gerrit show that the OS will finally support ADB access for Android in Developer mode.

ADB (Android Debug Bridge) is an indispensable tool for Android. It allows users to do a vast range of tasks that would otherwise have not been possible without root. Apps such as Andromeda (Substratum‘s rootless add-on) use ADB to install custom themes on Android Oreo without root. Up until now, Android in Chrome OS has lacked that access, which means that many advanced tasks simply could not be performed.

Chrome OS will soon support ADB access for Android apps in Developer Mode. Commit number 952470 has now been merged as a15200e. It is titled: “arc: Add a daemon to expose an ADB gadget to Android”. Here’s the description:

This change makes it possible for Android to use ADB over USB in Developer Mode.

CQ-DEPEND=CL:953091,CL:953656,CL:955675,CL:*585579,CL:*585580
BUG=b:70349025
TEST=`adb shell` works on a heavily-modified soraka
TEST=platform_FilePerms
TEST=cheets_ContainerSmokeTest
TEST=cheets_SELinuxTest
TEST=cheets_ContainerMount

Also, commit number 953091 has now been merged as ad921f4. It is titled: “arc-adbd: Add the arc-adbd service“. Here’s the description:

This change adds the .ebuild for the arc-adbd service. This is only enabled when running in Developer Mode.

CQ-DEPEND=CL:952470
BUG=b:70349025
TEST=`adb shell` works on a heavily-modified soraka

As the commits have now been merged, Chrome OS will soon support ADB access via adb shell for Android. This will only be enabled when the user’s Chromebook is running in Developer Mode. Also, it’s interesting to note that the test command for these Chromebooks makes references to a “heavily-modified soraka”, which is an unannounced detachable Chromebook that we have reported about in the past. We still don’t know its announcement time frame, however.