Best Stylus-Friendly Apps for Chromebooks

Google Chromebook
Chromebooks have had considerable success in business for those who want a lightweight computing option. But Google’s ambitions for the operating system are far bigger, with the best example being the Samsung Chromebook Plus and Pro. These models feature a touchscreen, a stylus, and access to Android apps through the Google Play Store. But which apps are the right fit for such a combination? Here's a core group of apps collected from the Chrome Web Store and Google Play that will have you touching, swiping and zooming your way to a more productive computing session with your own Chromebook.

Google Keep

Google Keep

Google’s small but mighty note-taking app is great for more than just lists and to-do items. A newly added drawing mode in Google Keep lets you sketch, jot down some thoughts or insert an image into one of the Post-It type notes. You can also clip web links and text into Keep to make it a home for all your digital clutter. It’s not as full-featured yet as Evernote or OneNote, but  doesn’t have the full range of inking you’d get with OneNote on a Surface, but it’s a move in the right direction.

Cloud9

Cloud9

Yes, you can do serious development work on a Chromebook. Cloud9 has a full-blown code editor with the real-time editing capabilities found in such apps as Google Docs. The development environment supports your work with Wordpress, Ruby on Rails, HTML5 and other popular platforms. 

Polarr photo editor

Polarr photo editor

Photo editing is one of those capabilities that has come a long way since Chromebooks first rolled out. One of the most capable editors for Chromebooks is Polarr. There’s a version for the web and an Android app that can be installed on your Chromebook. It’s one of the most comprehensive image editors out there that doesn’t require an expensive monthly fee or a huge learning curve.

Google Drawings

Google Drawings

The Google Drawings is the lesser known piece of Google’s G Suite of web-based productivity applications. Yet for touch input, it does a fairly decent job at creating diagrams, drawings, editing images and giving you room to experiment with the stylus, finger or mouse.

Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom

The Android version of Adobe Lightroom is available for supported Chromebooks, and it does an admirable job at supporting both basic and intermediate levels of edits. Additionally, expanding images with pinch-to-zoom and making more precise changes with a stylus can make the editing process more immersive than when you’re just using a trackpad.

Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office

Word, Excel and PowerPoint all perform quite well on Chromebooks. You can access them through Office Online, or install the Android apps onto a supported Chromebook. Neither version is as full-featured as the versions found on Windows or Mac, but they will let you do most essential edits and they’re touch friendly if you’re using your Chromebook in tablet mode.

AutoCAD

AutoCAD

AutoDesk has done a great job at taking its software that has been popular for vector drawing in traditional software and adopting it for Chrome OS. The Android version is called AutoCAD 360, and it gives you a moderate amount of editing capabilities for CAD drawings. Touch can certainly help here, offering another advantage to doing this work on a Chromebook.   

Adobe Comp

Adobe Comp

Adobe Comp has worked well on Android phones and tablets for a while, and it’s made a smooth transition to Chromebooks. The app lets you combine photos, texts and images for making a brochure, graphic or another file that can later be polished off in PhotoShop or InDesign.