Android Apps on Chrome OS – Early Impressions and Takeaways

The Chrome OS and Android Convergence

The announcement that Android applications were coming to Chrome OS in 2016 has generated a significant amount of excitement, both in the tech press and with existing Chromebook owners. People have been speculating for years that there would be a so-called convergence between Android – Google’s mobile phone and tablet OS – and Chrome OS, Google’s desktop and laptop OS.

By leveraging the massive library of applications in the Google Play store, merging Android and Chrome OS together would significantly change the Chromebook landscape, adding a wealth of productivity and entertainment options into the Chrome OS world. This would especially benefit Chromebooks that were operating offline, where Chrome OS has much more limited functionality due to its reliance on web apps. It might also solve some of the challenges Google has in the consumer space, such as difficulty with certain types of files (like PDFs), with printing, and an absence of entertainment options, particularly while offline and with regard to games.

At least, that’s been the general line of thinking, and one that I’ve mostly shared. If I were able to install games like Minecraft and apps like MS Word and Amazon’s Kindle app, that would make my Chromebook much closer to a full-fledged laptop, truly eliminating my need for a Windows laptop or Android tablet. This is even more true if Limelight game streaming, PDF apps, audiobook apps, retro game emulation, and easier Printing functionality all come into play.

Obviously, there are many varied reasons why one might be excited to have Android apps on their Chrome OS device. Owners of the Chromebook Pixel 2015, Acer R11, and Asus C100P “Flip” get the first crack at Android apps on a Chromebook.

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The Best Chromebooks You Can Buy: Fall & Holiday 2015

Chromebooks have come into their own during 2015, growing in popularity and seeing incredible diversification. Where 2014 saw a Chrome OS lineup that featured mostly similar budget devices with low-resolution screens, in 2015 the Chromebook line-up varies from $149 ARM-powered budget devices, to $899 and up Intel Broadwell-powered touchscreen workhorses.

This guide is designed to help you navigate this lineup and find the Chromebook that is right for you, or whoever it is that you may be shopping for. Similar to the Spring/Summer version, I’ve listed the Chromebooks in ascending order by screen size, and then at the end summarize the best Chromebook for a variety of specific categories.

As information, “Crouton” is mentioned multiple times in this article, and is a reference to a set of scripts you can download which allows your Chromebook to simultaneously run Chrome OS and Ubuntu Linux. This allows you to run programs on your Chromebook which you otherwise could not, such as Minecraft, Steam, and more. For more info, see here for background on using Linux on your Chromebook, and here for an install guide.

At the bottom of the article, you’ll find links to reviews of almost all of the Chromebooks referenced here, as well.

11.6″ Chromebooks

Best Budget Choice – Asus C201

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The Asus C201 is still, in my opinion, the best budget Chromebook you can buy. It has an MSRP of $169.99 but has been on sale from multiple retailers for $159.99 or less, and is currently $154.99 on Amazon.com; there is also a 4 GB version that has an MSRP of $189.99.

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Asus C201 – $169 Chromebook Review

As of this writing, there are three new Chromebooks from early 2015 available with MSRP’s below $199, all running on the Rockchip RK3288 SoC:

I’ve previously written about the Hisense and the Haier, and found the Hisense to be the better device overall, with the lone exception being the Haier’s superior battery.

The Asus C201 had a quiet release given the press coverage of those two cheaper and retailer-exclusive devices, but subsequently had very positive reviews on Amazon. It costs $20 more, but has generally the same specs as those two cheaper devices, with the addition of a promised 13-hour run time.

Is it worthy of the additional expense, or are you just paying for the name brand?

Let’s take a look at the Asus C201.

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Chrome Extensions: 6 MORE You Should be Using

Google’s Chrome browser may be a bit of a RAM hog, but for most people, the stability, security, convenience, and speed of Chrome make it the web browser of choice. In order to maximize your Chrome experience, regardless of platform, you need to have your Extension game in order.

A few months ago, I posted a list of ten of my favorite Chrome extensions. For my list, I tried to avoid very obvious and popular extensions, focusing instead on hidden gems, like YouTube Subscription Grid.

Today, I’m going to show you six more Chrome Extensions that will add value to your web browsing experience, no matter which desktop operating system you’re using.

As with last time, all of the Extension names in the list below are links to those extensions in the Chrome Web Store.  Enjoy!

AlienTube for YouTube

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