ChromeOS game controls for Android apps are here

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In announcing Steam support earlier this year, Google also said Chromebooks were getting a “games overlay” for Android titles to make them playable with keyboard and mouse. ChromeOS 105 introduces an early Alpha of these game controls.

ChromeOS game controls translate key presses into simulated touch events like tap actions and touch-and-drag.

End users will see on-screen buttons and virtual joysticks, as well as a rounded square button that has a controller icon on the right edge of the screen. Tapping opens the settings menu for “Game controls” with an on/off switch and ability to edit key mappings, as well as disable that overlay.    

Google is testing game controls in Alpha with ChromeOS 105 for the following Android titles (across four interaction categories) from the Play Store:

To use, your ChromeOS computer “must be connected to both a keyboard and an input pointer device (such as a mouse or touchpad).” At the moment, the controls are just intended for active gameplay, and a mouse is needed for menu navigations and in-game dialogs. Meanwhile, Google notes that it “doesn’t address existing strange behavior some games have in certain window sizes or when resizing.”

This is all aimed at making otherwise “touchscreen-only” games playable on all devices. After all, the “majority of ChromeOS users interact with apps using a mouse and keyboard, but many apps from Google Play are only designed with touch interactions in mind.” Ideally, Google wants all developers to implement keyboard support, but game controls offer a stopgap.

Looking ahead, Google plans to introduce:

  • Editor to make adding game controls support possible for any game from Google Play that your Chromebook runs
  • Mouse and gamepad support
  • More types of touch interactions

More on ChromeOS:

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