Updated on December 10, 2021
I thought I’d list what Chrome OS apps I’m using on my Chromebook.
I should note that since Chrome OS’ functionality is heavily web-based, some of the “apps” under its launcher are just bookmarks to a particular website. However, for this post’s purposes, I won’t bother distinguishing those from stand-alone programs like the calculator app.
I already use TweetDeck on my Mac and on Linux Mint, since it provides more functionality than the plain Twitter website. Among TweetDeck’s uses are the ability to set up multiple columns based on specific content. Yes, Twitter, I can “curate” my own feed just fine, thank you.
Google Docs (Docs/Sheets/Slides)
Google Docs is Google’s answer to Microsoft Word and Excel (or Apple’s iWork). While it doesn’t have Office’s complexity (or, fortunately, its Ribbon interface), Docs does handle basic word processing and spreadsheet functions just fine. Docs also automatically saves all changes to one’s Drive account, which is nice. Despite this, I still feel the urge to hit Ctrl-S every so often out of habit…
For those who absolutely prefer Microsoft Office, Office has its own online version for free, albeit tied to its cloud storage service, OneDrive. Docs, however, can import, edit, and export Office formatted documents.
Drive is Google’s cloud storage service; lately, they’ve also been using it as the name for the Google Docs suite, to some confusion. I’ve written more about Drive previously, though Dropbox is also available on Chrome OS.
Evernote’s been very useful as a cross-platform note-taking app for quite awhile now. While Google’s introduced Google Keep as an option, I’ve opted to stick with Evernote, mostly out of Google’s habit of occasionally killing software that it deems has failed to catch on. (See: the death of Google Reader.) Evernote’s a pretty nice app, however, and lets me create to-do lists, grocery lists, etc.
BrowsePass is the best Chrome OS app I could find for opening KeePass password manager files. It gets the job done of accessing passwords. Still, if keeping passwords in a cloud-based system isn’t an objection, one might instead want to consider an online password keeper like LastPass.
Pixlr Editor can perform basic photo editing functions. I’ve used it mainly for resizing photos, which is useful for my blog.
CIRC is an IRC program for Chrome OS. It works well enough for my lightweight IRC needs, but I imagine power users might be less than enthused.
Netflix works just fine on Chrome OS, thanks to accommodating its DRM needs better than an ordinary Linux laptop does. Yes, DRM for better or worse, though since Netflix is explicitly a rental service, I’m more tolerant of DRM there. Videos play just as well on my Chromebook as on other devices.
Google Play Music is a nice alternative to iTunes, as its cloud-based/web-based setup means it’ll work on all of my devices, Linux included. It also helps that I’ve uploaded my entire music collection to Play Music, so I can access it from anywhere. My only criticisms are that Music doesn’t specifically support podcasts (Google once had a podcast app, but killed that a few “spring cleanings” ago), and there’s still no smart playlist feature.
Google+ Photos offers basic photo management features. I’ve shifted uploading my photos from Flickr to Photos, and while it lacks some Flickr features (easier sharing of individual photos and Creative Commons photo labeling the main drawbacks), it’s worked fine so far.
Feedly’s been my replacement for the aforementioned Google Reader, and handles RSS feeds well. Importantly, it’s cross-platform, unlike the stand-alone RSS readers I’ve used on Linux/OS X.
TuneIn is also cross-platform, offering streaming audio of radio stations. I use it mainly for NPR, and occasionally Canada’s CBC.
Similar to TuneIn, Pandora’s streaming audio service is cross-platform, and lets me listen to a variety of new music for free. While Spotify does have an app for Chrome OS, I’ve not been fully sold on the idea of paying for streaming music; I’d rather just buy singles or albums outright.
YouTube works as expected on Chrome OS, of course. It also seems to be the basis of Chrome OS’ support for playing individual videos from a USB drive, Google Drive, or Chromebooks’ limited storage space.
PicMonkey, like Pixlr, allows for some basic editing of photos. PicMonkey, however, offers a large variety of effects for photos.
This list is subject to change over time, of course. I’m still exploring what apps are available for Chrome OS, and trying new ones. Also, app development’s likely to grow/change over time as Chrome OS increases in popularity.
Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.