With some fantastic Chromebook options available to consumers right now and more coming soon, it's a great time to buy a Chromebook. But hardware is not the only thing to be excited about. One extremely useful feature of many new models of Chromebooks is the ability to natively run Android apps. This adds tremendous functionality, with over two million apps to choose from on the Google Play Store. While some of these apps, particularly those designed for phones, may not carry over particularly well, others can drastically increase the capabilities of your Chromebook. Here are the top five apps that will significantly expand what your Chromebook can do.
While Chromebooks have Microsoft Office alternatives available, such as Google's suite of office applications including Docs, Sheets, and Slides, this may not be ideal for those who have become accustomed to Microsoft Office over the years. The Microsoft Office suite for Android tablets will provide a very similar experience to its desktop counterpart. There is a Microsoft Office app available in the Google Play Store for phones only, but the link below will direct you to Microsoft Word for tablets. Other applications from the Microsoft Office suite for tablets are available individually in the Google Play store.
Photo editing tools that have been designed for Chromebooks often leave quite a bit to be desired. Fortunately, if your Chromebook is compatible with Android apps, you have a lot of great options available to choose from. Adobe Lightroom is a fantastic photo-editing app with many great features, and will provide a similar (though somewhat scaled-down) experience to the desktop version. If Lightroom doesn't suit your needs, other Adobe products, such as Photoshop Express, may work for you, and if not, there is no shortage of other powerful options available.
While many Android apps will help make your Chromebook more productive, there are also some that will open up new entertainment possibilities. Spotify is one of the most popular music streaming services available on Android. It has only been available on Chromebooks in the past through a web browser, which doesn't offer all of the same features and functionality of the Android app, so the ability to use the app is a large improvement.
AutoCAD for PC is a flexible tool for drawing and drafting, but it doesn't have a Chromebook equivalent. Fortunately, Autodesk has a mobile app called AutoCAD 360 with many of the same features. Being able to use this on a Chromebook, particularly one that is touch-enabled, may take another step to reduce your dependency on a traditional desktop or laptop computer.
Finally, there's Google Now. While the Chromebook is already heavily integrated with Google apps and services, it does not currently have a standalone Google app equivalent to what you'd find on an Android phone or tablet. This is something that could stand to make the Chromebook much easier to use by providing quick methods to carry out tasks and providing information cards based on context without any action on the user's part. This functionality would be a welcome addition to Chrome OS itself, but until that happens, the Android app should be able to do the trick.