Chromebooks have been gaining traction in business for their ease of use, deployment and solid security. However, Chromebooks have a perceived limitation that comes with working solely in the Chrome browser. As good as web apps have become, sometimes you still want the full feature set that comes with desktop software.
Google's solution for this is the Google Play Store, which is available now for most Chromebooks. Just like with an Android device, you can install applications for offline use and extend the capability of your Chromebook.
Google keeps a running list of Chromebooks that have access to the Play Store. Be sure your Chromebook is up to date, and check in with Google's instructions for installing apps if you're unfamiliar with the process. Then, prepare to get some work done with some of the more effective Android apps you can install on Chrome OS. [Looking for a Chromebook for your business? Check out our best picks.]
1. Microsoft Office
Even if you prefer G Suite, it's nearly impossible to escape Microsoft Office. Many companies have Office 365 subscriptions, so at some point you'll need to submit work or collaborate with someone with an Office file.
While Microsoft has its Office Online suite for Windows, Android offers its own versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Given Android's wide user base (it recently surpassed Windows), you're likely to see considerable attention from Microsoft to make the apps integrate more deeply with the features of Android.
2. Microsoft Outlook
The other key piece that deserves a separate mention is Outlook. Unlike the web-based version of Outlook, the Android app can handle multiple accounts at once. It essentially gives you the potential to run a dedicated email client that handles all your addresses on a Chromebook. This means you don't need to keep five different tabs open for your different accounts.
If you do any work on the internet, you probably use Slack. The Android version is more capable than what comes with Chrome, as you can run multiple accounts and keep it up and going in its own resizable window. Given the company's rapid development pace amidst more competition from Microsoft, Google and others, expect the Android app to continue to get better.
No, we're not talking about a way to just skirt your work duties. If you manage a company's Snapchat presence, you can use the Android app to follow other brands and check in on who's viewed your day's snaps. The Android application doesn't resize too well, but it gives you the opportunity to access this social network without a mobile device.
It might sound odd to run another browser on a Chromebook, but with the Play Store, you can now do exactly that. Firefox has been on Android for a while, and you can give the browser a go on Chrome OS if you want to experiment or get a sense for how a website you're working on might look with a different browser.
6. Adobe Lightroom
Adobe has made a major effort to ensure its Android apps are top-notch. By tapping into the Adobe suite, you'll be able to do serious photo editing work from a Chromebook. Along with Lightroom, other apps in the Adobe suite work on Chrome OS, such as Photoshop Express.
Sometimes you need some tunes to help you get all that work done. The Spotify web app has always been a little underpowered, so take advantage of the Android app for a better experience. The interface can seem a little stretched if you have a larger Chromebook, but it still gives you a dedicated music player for streaming tunes throughout the workday.