Chromebooks can run Android applications and games from the Google Play Store, but most Android apps are designed for phones, not computers. Google is now attempting to make those games a bit easier to play with a keyboard.
Even though Android games and applications can support keyboards, mice, resizable windows, and other behaviors expected on a desktop operating system, many of them aren’t thoroughly tested on Chromebooks. With games, this can mean using a mouse or touchpad to perform swipes and taps instead of a touchscreen, which is clunky at best and impossible at worst (especially for fast-paced games).
Google is now taking action into its own hands, by enabling “an early Alpha of the game controls feature for a select set of touchscreen-only Android games.” The feature looks for keyboard input, such as the WASD keys in games with directional movement, and simulates the required tap or swipe for the game. The result is that more games are playable on Chromebooks, even if the games’ developers aren’t interested in supporting keyboard and mouse input.
Google said in its announcement, “by translating key presses into simulated touch events, the game controls feature allows players to use their keyboard to interact with on-screen buttons and virtual joysticks, resulting in a vastly improved experience for games with limited or missing keyboard support.”
Even though game controls are customizable to (theoretically) work with most games, Google has only enabled the feature on a select set of Android games for now. Some of the titles include Archero, Geometry Dash Lite, Pixel Blade R – Revolution, Tap Titans 2, and 2048 Original.
The functionality is available on Chrome OS 105, which is still rolling out to all supported Chromebooks. That update also includes everything new in Chrome 105.
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