App developers that couldn’t enable their software to run on the latest Samsung Chromebook are now able to do so: Google added ARM architecture support on Tuesday to Native Client (NaCl), the solution that lets native applications run in the Chrome browser. Without this, the Samsung Chromebook, which runs on a type of chip typically used in smartphones, couldn’t run some apps that other Chromebooks could.
I noticed this little bit of application fragmentation in October after reviewing the $249 Samsung Chromebook. Very specific apps, such as Netflix and Bastion, for example, simply didn’t run on the Chrome OS device. I thought that odd since they both work on my Intel-based Samsung Chromebook. It turns out that NaCl wasn’t ready to support ARM-based devices.
Since Google just added ARM support, don’t expect to see these and other apps that rely on NaCl to start working immediately. The app developers have to do a bit of tweaking, although Google says it isn’t much. And later this year, Google expects to mature this solution to what it calls Portable Native Client. At that point, developers will be able to work with one single code base for their app as the chip architecture won’t matter.