While there is no shortage of Chrome apps and extensions for Chromebook, they still don’t suffice the need. You still don’t have a full-fledged file manager or a text-editor or even a media player. And that’s just getting started on the lack of useful apps.
Pretty much every Chromebook launched after 2017, supports Google Play Store right out of the box. However, if you bought your Chromebook before 2017, you can check if your Chromebooks support Android apps from this link. With that out of the way, o, let’s check out some of the must-have Android apps on your Chromebook.
Android apps on your Chromebook
1. Xodo Docs
While you can read PDFs on the Chrome browser, it doesn’t let you markup or edits those PDFs. In short, it lacks a good dedicated PDF reader. So in case, you deal with a lot of PDFs, try the Xodo Docs app. It lets you edit, markup, sign PDFs. In addition to this, you also get an inbuilt PDF converter to convert webpages, images, and documents to PDF.
Install Xodo Docs (Free)
2. iA Writer
Talking about things missing on the Chromebook, you also don’t have an offline text editor. I do a lot of writing work and I prefer to write offline on a blank canvas. I use the iA Writer app which has the typewriter font and white canvas. Although cloud support is not one of my priorities but it does support Google Drive and Dropbox.
Download iA Writer
Chromebooks are not meant for photo editing and neither is the experience that pleasant. However, there are still occasions when you have to snap a filter or two. While Lightroom and Snapseed are among the best free photo editing apps you can get on the Android Play Store but they are too powerful for the Chromebook to handle. So, you can try out the Pixlr editing app. It’s a pretty handy photo editor that lets you snap filters, patch and heal photos, create collages, etc.
For a simple use case, you can also try the Polarr Photo Editor.
You could use Quik from GoPro as a go-to video editing tool to create those birthday wishes and farewell videos. It comes preloaded with video themes which automatically setups the video for you. Hence, you don’t have to make much manual effort.
5. Solid Explorer
The native Files app is built as a cross-platform tool but doesn’t seem enough for a full-fledged laptop. Solid Explorer is an alternative file manager that’s optimized for the big screen. You get a default 2-pane view which lets you drag and drop files instantly. Additionally, you can also connect to Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc and use the files locally.
Download Solid Explorer
6. VLC Media Player
The Files app also has a native media player, but it lacks background playback as well as picture-in-picture mode. So, I use the VLC media player app to play footage off my external hard drive. Additionally, the VLC media player supports all kinds of media format. You can also use it to play offline music.
Download VLC Media Player
Now, why would you need Netflix and YouTube on a chromebook? Well, I know we have a web app and you can always stream content readily on it. However, the online web apps don’t support offline downloading. So, you can switch to the Android app which supports downloading content offline. So you all geared up for you commute even when the network is dicey.
If you are more of a reading buff, Tachiyomi is the ideal app for you. It is a renowned manga reader app, however you can use it to read local PDF, EPUB, ZIP, 7z files. In addition to it, you can also try ReadEra app which lets you read local textbooks or magazines, etc. ReadEra is also capable of handling Microsoft documents and other text formats.
9. Hiper Scientific Calculator
The native calculator would do for most of the users. But, if you are someone whose curriculum consists of Logic Discrete Mathematics, you do need a more powerful calculator app. Hiper Scientific Calculator is well optimized for the large Chromebook screen with all the derivative functions and indefinite integrals.
Download Hiper Scientific Calculator
Flashcards are the best way to learn Trivia and foreign languages. If you are into one of those, do try out the AnkiDroid app. Initially, you feed answers into the app and later use them to memorize the same. I often use it to work on my vocabulary. However, you can club it with your studies and use flashcards to memorize things.
Since all my playlists are stacked up on Spotify, I do miss them on the Chromebook. The Android app yet again provides the feature of offline downloading all my content so I could roll even without the Internet. Plus, Spotify also streams podcasts so I don’t really miss the Google Podcasts app.
Talking about Podcasts, in case you need a dedicated app with vast content, PocketCasts is the ideal choice. It recently moved to the freemium model. So, you can download the app for free while some of the content are behind the paywall.
ChromeOS doesn’t have an inbuilt clipboard manager and Clipper might be the ideal choice for it. It does support links and text formatting but you would miss the image compatibility. Clipper stays on top of the notification drawer so you can always access your last copied text.
I do write a lot on my Chromebook and more often than not it’s just repetitive text. So, I use Texpand which is a text-expansion app. The only caveat is that it works slightly different on the Chromebook. I have to tap once on the green tick pop-up for it to expand the sentence. Also, I experienced random crashes that were fixed after a quick restart.
Unlike Windows and macOS, ChromeOS doesn’t have a native terminal. For those command-line tasks like SSH or FTP you would again need a third-party app like Termux. Termux also supports git command so you can download repos from GitHub and much more. Additionally, you can also use it as a C emulator.
16. A-Z screen recorder
Well, the ChromeOS doesn’t have an inbuilt screen recorder and AZ is the closest you can come. The app UI is not optimized for the large screen. However, it can still pump full screen recording in maximum resolution. You do have to provide it some additional permissions to draw over the screen, etc.
Download AZ Screen Recorder
Since you are using the Netflix and YouTube android app, the chrome browser VPNs won’t work on them. Although we at TechWiser recommend paid VPN services, you can use ProtonVPN. The only caveat is that the ProtonVPN limits your internet speed but provides you unlimited browsing.
18. Voice recorder
Another handy utility is the voice recorder app. If you use your Chromebook for small voiceovers or even storing audio notes, this app is a must-have. The app also supports inbuilt voice recording so you can also use it to store lecture audio or presentations.
Download voice recorder
19. Adobe Illustrator
If you are into random sketches or drawing, the Chromebook can complement as a good canvas due to its touch screen. You can try the Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop Sketch app. Both of them are free with optional Adobe cloud subscription unlike their desktop counterparts. You get a vast amount of brush sizes and you can even sideload ones over the Internet.
Download Adobe Illustrator
As they say last but not least, you have the Fing app. It’s quite a popular networking app that scans your entire network and provides statistics. If you have a home network, it’s a good app to monitor the network activity and bandwidth. It also provides some small utilities like ping, NetBIOS, tracert, etc.
Chromebook is a great device build around the cloud data framework and GSuite. For obvious reasons, it does lack on the offline front. However, the above-mentioned apps do cover all the grounds and you would be just fine with them.
For more issues or queries, do let me know in the comments below.