Google readies Chromebook keyboard controls for Android games

Google Play Store has a wide selection of games that you can enjoy on almost all Android devices as long as this device offers a touch screen interface. Unless you have one of the best Chromebooks that comes with a touch screen, you can kiss any chance of getting the most out of most mobile games goodbye, all because they weren’t designed for keyboard and mouse input to begin with. Fortunately, things are changing. Google is presenting an early test in which keyboard inputs on its Chromebook emulate actual touch input in a handful of Android games.


Starting with ChromeOS 105, Google is introducing an alpha test for specific game controls where keypresses on a physical keyboard replace in-game touch events. These simulated touches allow interaction with on-screen buttons and joysticks. The implementation reminds us how Android emulators like BlueStacks in Windows workaround touch controls. Here, Google is expanding first-party support with a focus on eight joystick-controlled games, eleven single-button titles, six multi-button control games, and five games that offer swipe controls.

Interestingly, all of the slider games in this alpha test are variations of the number game 2048. But don’t worry; the original is also listed. Other successful games in this test include Hill Climb Racing, Geometry Dash Lite, and Archero (seen below).

As long as you have a keyboard and mouse connected to your Chromebook, you can define your key bindings for virtual button presses and tap and drag actions for on-screen joysticks in supported games. When you launch a supported title, you’ll see an overlay showing the default key combinations. You can change these links and assign different keys in the controls menu accessible by clicking the white square along the right side of the screen.

However, Google notes that the new alpha test doesn’t mean developers can bypass the requirement for keyboard support in apps. The current test for keyboard controls is simply a way to improve the gaming experience on ChromeOS as developers continue to optimize their apps for the operating system’s requirements. Ultimately, more support from game developers means you’ll be able to enjoy a more consistent experience across devices, regardless of a title’s input methods and screen size. Until then, you may need to use your mouse to navigate in-game menus, even in Chrome 105.

If things go as planned in this alpha test, we expect the list of supported games to grow, so your reliance on third-party emulators and other unwanted workarounds could soon be reduced. While Google figures it out, maybe consider installing the ChromeOS 105 update and upgrading to one of the better Chromebook keyboards before you start messing around with the OS.

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