Google's App Mall for ChromeOS is available in preview

In March, Google was spotted working on a suspected one-stop shop for apps and games on Chromebooks. The tool is called App Mall and is now available in preview on ChromeOS Canary. If everything goes according to plan, it could be widely rolled out to users in the coming months.

Google opens ChromeOS App Mall for preview

The best Chromebooks offer excellent versatility when it comes to the app ecosystem. These devices can run PWAs (Progressive Web Apps), Android apps, and Linux apps. However, there is no one app store where you can find all compatible apps for your Chromebook. This makes it difficult to choose the right kind of app, whether you get an Android app or its PWA version.

Google wants to solve this with App Mall. It will be a central location for discovering new apps and games on Chromebooks. This much-needed tool has been in development for a few months and we are now seeing it in action, at least an early version of it. Spotted by Chrome Unboxed, App Mall is available in the Canary channel of ChromeOS 126. It can be enabled with the chrome://flags/#cros-mall flag.

When you enable this flag, your Chromebook will pin the App Mall icon to your shelf and app launcher. Opening it will take you to an app store where you can find all kinds of apps for your ChromeOS device. The left panel contains buttons for Search, Home, Apps and Games, as well as a shortcut to the Google Play Store. The app listings include a full description and screenshots.

You can select the app you want to download, choose a source store and install it on your Chromebook. For some apps it is the Play Store is the only option. For others, Google lets you choose between the Play Store and the Internet. If you select the web version, a pop-up menu will appear with an “Install” button. It's nice to see Google giving PWAs a proper installation process just like regular Android apps.

You can try the new ChromeOS app store on any device

If you have a Chromebook running the aforementioned version of ChromeOS Canary, you can enable the said flag to gain early access to App Mall. However, if you don't have a compatible device, you can still try. Google built it like a traditional web app, so you can try it on any device. We'll let you know when the company begins the public rollout of App Mall.

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