Do you need a mouse to use Android apps on your Chromebook?

One of the questions that was asked at the Chromebook session that introduced Android apps for Chrome OS was "Do you need a mouse to use them?" It's also a question we've already heard from people who are getting ready for things to get out of the developer channel or for their model of Chrome OS device to get Android apps. The quick answer is "no," but the better answer is "maybe."

Android apps for Chrome debuted on the ASUS Chromebook Flip. (Be sure to read our full review on that one.) It's a Chromebook with a touchscreen and a decent trackpad. It's not the best trackpad — like you would find on the Chromebook Pixel or a MacBook — but it's much better than some other low-end Chromebooks. In any case, with the trackpad and the touchscreen you have two input devices, and can do anything you would need to do in any Android app that's working as intended. You can swipe right and left on the trackpad (as well as the touchscreen in many cases), a two-finger tap is a "right click" when you need it, and you can press and hold for a long press in Android. If you're used to doing things on a laptop and using the trackpad, you'll get into the groove pretty quickly.

If you have a mouse you like, give it a try and see which way you like better.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't (or can't) use a mouse with your Chromebook, both for Chrome apps as well as Android apps. Both operating systems have pretty good mouse support, and for a lot of things — editing text, drawing or editing pictures or playing some games — a mouse works better than a touchscreen or a trackpad. Your Chromebook can use a USB or Bluetooth mouse, but if you have something a bit more fancy that just a two-button mouse with a scroll wheel, chances are none of the extra buttons or doohickies will work. I use a Logitech Marathon mouse (opens in new tab) with my Chromebook (I need a bigger mouse and I love that battery life) and the side buttons for forward and back don't work, but the basic function — including the scroll wheel — works perfectly.

If you have a mouse you like, give it a try and see which way you like better. If you don't have a mouse just yet and are interested in picking one up, or sister site Windows Central had a look at some great ones. You'll find that link below.

The best portable PC mice

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • I use a wireless mouse with my labtop the battery in the mouse has not died in 2 years now since I bought it I am really amazed it lived that long and is still living on Posted from my Moto X 2nd gen and my Nexus 9 both on Android Marshmallow
  • what mouse did you buy? Posted via the Android Central App
  • A Logitech mouse that cost $30 from best buy Posted from my Moto X 2nd gen and my Nexus 9 both on Android Marshmallow
  • So technically I would only need a mouse if I had a Chromebook that didn't have a touchscreen. Glad to here mouse support is good for running Android apps, that was one of my big questions since a lot of Chromebooks don't have a touchscreen. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Even then, you could get by just fine with the touchpad.
  • TouchPad is always last resort. Posted from Nexus 6
  • Depends on how good the touchpad is
  • They're mostly **** nowadays on the windows and and chromebook side. Posted from my cracked Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Yeah, just my opinion, but no such thing. Posted from Nexus 6
  • I use a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard with my Android phone when I bring up a Linux desktop (Debian Noroot). Works great, especially when I cast the screen to a monitor or TV.
  • I am using my mouse, ironically when I was on the stable channel, I would notice on certain sites the screen would shut on and off flashing off and on then giving a external display we're sorry etc....blah. This happened on just one tab on like my credit card site, or a social media site multiple tabs etc. That said, I have switched to dev, I have not had any screen flashes. I am however reconsidering this device, I dont know if I will keep it. I need a USB cord without the brick attached so I can use my portable power bank. I don't wanna always be in need of a outlet. I also notice to have 4gb RAM it moves pretty slow....this was on both Stable and dev build. Also it doesnt play WMV video files o_0.. SO idk, I know there is a performance difference when accessing the same apps/websites on my device or regular laptop, performance needs a major overhaul, it really isnt fluid as I'd expect a 4gb ram device with JUST Chrome. I also looked at the system info it reads like there are " 2" 2 DDR4 (or 3) RAM pieces and not just ONE 4GB RAM piece....
  • If you have a touch enabled Chromebook and you're used to Android apps on a phone or tablet then you won't even notice the touch pad or mouse. But if you want to take the time to deliberately learn a new input paradigm then a mouse can be quite entertaining.