Although most Chromebooks have touch screens, not all of them do. You can often save anywhere from $20 to $40 by skipping a touch display if that option is available. If you want to use Android apps or games though, you’re then stuck with standard mouse and keyboard controls, which may not work.
To rectify this, Chrome 105 adds keyboard controls in an “Alpha” stage for developers. That means the feature isn’t even in a “Beta” yet so it might be a little wonky. However, once fully baked, you can use your Chromebook keyboard in lieu of touch controls:
The game controls feature translates key presses into simulated touch events, bridging the gap for touchscreen-only games.
Android games are the target here because they rely almost solely on touch screen manipulation. These games are designed for phones and tablets, which are pretty much guaranteed to have a touch panel.
Keep in mind that once ChromeOS 105 arrives on your Chromebook, this new feature won’t work across all Android games. This capability is being added for developers, who have to integrate it into their Android game titles. Until that happens for your favorite game(s), you’ll still be wishing you spend the extra money for that touch panel. Or you’ll need a supported game controller that works with your Android games.
Indeed, in this “Alpha” phase, Google is “introducing the most necessary elements to enable keyboard support on a handful of pre-selected games.” So this option won’t be made available to every Android game at first. ChromeOS 105 adds keyboard controls for a limited set of Android games on day one.
Google says “This release is intended for use in active gameplay. You should still use your mouse for menu navigations and in-game dialogs.” You’ll still have standard input methods for Android games on a Chromebook such as a keyboard and a mouse where it makes sense.
But when actually playing your game? You’ll have the gaming experience I grew up on before touch panels and the computer mouse was a thing. WASD forever!