For Google, Chromebook’s most important apps are not Android apps, Linux apps, or even Chrome apps, it’s PWAs (Progressive Web Apps). These are just websites but has an app functionalities like it doesn’t load the webpage for every click (dynamic webpages), supports animations, works even in the offline, has push notifications functionality, etc. Even comparing to native apps like Android apps and Windows apps, PWAs are easy to make, lite weight to run on any device, not battery hogs, etc. So they are like the best of both worlds. Even developers like to develop PWAs as they can just create one Progressive Web App and upload it in Google Play Store, Microsoft Store, Apple App Store, etc which not only makes their work easier but also they don’t need to pay 30% cut to these apps stores.
As an added benefit, Chromebooks and PWAs are perfect Duo and optimized for each other, so here are the best PWA apps you need to install and take advantage of.
Best PWA Apps for Chromebooks
To install these PWA apps, click on the links and click on the plus sign in the Omnibar (Search bar).
If you are an avid music listener and Spotify subscriber like me, installing a Spotify PWA makes a whole lot sense. To be frank, the Spotify app on the play store gives you the worst experience of listening to music because of its layout on the desktop mode. So I often go to the web version of Spotify. It is miles ahead and also loads faster than the Android app.
2. YouTube Music
Just like Spotify, YouTube Music also doesn’t provide a great experience when using the Android app on the Chromebook. It might get the work done better than Spotify, but still, the layout doesn’t feel intuitive and doesn’t support few keyboard functions like clicking spacebar to pause. So if you are a YouTube Music subscriber, tryout YouTube Music PWA. One more advantage is, you can play YouTube Music in the background in the PWA version even though you are not a YouTube Music subscriber.
Open YouTube Music
For video Streaming services, websites are the best way to go as they don’t take up a lot of space on your Chromebook. It might be Netflix, Prime Video, or Hulu. But as of now, Hulu is the only service that provides the PWA version. Anyhow, the Netflix app on Chromebook is good enough as it supports the keyboard and also gives you additional functionality like downloading.
4. YouTube TV
YouTube TV is a live TV Streaming app from YouTube. But as of now, it is only available in the US. As expected the Android app doesn’t have proper keyboard support. Though the layout was quite ok, you can have a bit more flexibility with the web version. Google already added YouTube TV PWA to Play Store, so you can download the YouTube TV directly from the Play Store to experience PWA. Anyhow, it sad to see YouTube is not on the list.
Open YouTube TV
Booking and Ecommerce Apps
Booking apps are one of the first apps to get into the PWA space as most users don’t use these apps every day and uninstall them for storage space. As PWAs don’t take a lot of space and storage, most of the apps like Uber have shifted to the PWA. This also helps them in app development costs. This PWA app is even more useful on your phone.
Airbnb is a good option to choose rather than traditional hotels as you get an entire home for almost a similar price. If you are planning for any trips and you can book your Airbnb right from the PWA app on the Chromebook.
Twitter is one of the early adopters for the PWA technology. Infact, it’s also available on the Play Store as a PWA version just like YouTube TV. Just download the Twitter app from the Play Store and you are good to go.
Instagram app on the Android lacks the smoothness and refinement. It has a few touch problems, open slower, the camera doesn’t work great, etc. It’s because there are a lot of Android phones and its hard to optimize for each and every phone out there. But the PWA version of the Instagram can make the experience bit better as PWA’s are responsive, it can adjust to the phone’s screen and resolution much better. It is lite weight, so it opens up much faster too. Infact, you can install the Instagram PWA on your Chromebook too and it works a lot better than the native Android app.
9. Google Messages
After the RCS update, Google Messages became one of the best messaging services for its unique features and replacing SMS technology. It is also available to use on the web by connecting your phone just like on the Whatsapp. You can install Google Messages PWA and chat with your pals from the desktop too.
Open Google Messages
One of the underrated features of the telegram is that it works on the desktop even without your phone. Combining that with its own PWA app makes it a great option as you don’t need to keep your phone with you every time.
Photo editing & Drawing Apps
Photopea is a web-based Photoshop replacement app. It looks and feels completely like Photoshop. If you want to use Photoshop on the Chromebook, using Photopea is the best option. As it also has PWA, you can just install this web app as your pro photo editing tool.
12. Gravit Designer
Recently, I have tested out all the drawing apps available on Chromebooks. Gravit Designer is not only the best option which I found, it also supports PWA that makes it available to install. It has all the pro features you need on drawing software like various brushes, preset shapes, and features like snapping, layers, creating paths, etc.
Open Gravit designer
Photo stack is an app that helps to edit multiple photos at once like adding watermarks, etc. As it is an open-source app, it is completely free. But the only caveat is, though the app is minimal, it is hard to find out features and complete the process. But once you get used to it, it will get the work done as you need.
Snapdrop is like airdrop like the feature but it is available on the web, so you can use it to share files between any devices irrespective of the operating system you are using. All you need to do is open a snap drop website on both devices and start sharing. So having it on the home screen makes much more sense. And you do the same from all the devices you use, so you can transfer between them much easier.
5217 is a kind of Pomodoro technique timer app. But here, you work for 52 minutes and take a break for 17 minutes. To be frank, it’s better than the default 25 minutes work and 5 minutes break on other apps. But the best part is that the app is minimal and doesn’t show running seconds which distract you rather than help you to concentrate.
16. The Weekr
Weekr is the day scheduling app that helps you to create tasks and reminders. In case, you feel the Google calendar is overflooded with features that you never use, you can try out The Weekr. There is also The Weekr app on Android and iOS, so it is also cross-platform supported to notify you about things.
Open The Weekr
17. Google Maps
You might have already expected, the Android app version is nowhere near to usability. You must be depending on the web if you are on Chrome. Maps is one of that apps you need as much as screen space possible. So by installing the Maps, it removes the all those chrome bars and gives you a full-fledged app kind of experience.
Open Google Maps
18. Redax Sounds
Redax sounds help you play nature sounds that can help you to relax or concentrate on something. Comparing to many such websites, Redax has a lot of sound options to choose from rain to piano. As it also supports PWA, we can easily install it.
Open Redax Sounds
Chromebooks’ core principle is to make everything possible with just websites. And Google is also working on them continuously like starting services like Stadia, including PWA’s into Play Store, etc. Android apps, Linux apps can be an advantage in the way of fully becoming a web apps machine.