Google may have decided to shutter Chrome apps on desktop versions of its browser this year, but Chrome apps remain an essential part of the separate Chromebook and ChromeOS ecosystem, with an ever-expanding library of apps that add tons of functionality to the browser-based OS. From cloud programming tools to image editors, from note-taking software to music tools, here are the 30 best Chrome apps right now.
Open-source media player VLC is a one-stop shop for all of your media playing needs, opening just about any file format you throw at it, from the ubiquitous MP3 and AVI to more esoteric types such as MKV, FLAC, as well as DVD ISOs and network streams. Handy, easy to use, and packed with tons of audio and video settings, subtitle support and media library management features, VLC is a fantastic addition to your Chromebook's app library. (Download VLC for ChromeOS)
Polarr brings a powerful, full-featured offline photo editing app straight to your Chromebook, with no web connection necessary. Preset filters let you easily apply quick effects, but Polarr also offers more robust editing tools for tweaking exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows and color temperature, as well as the ability to tweak the entire photo or through more limited radial, gradient and brush-based edits. The app keeps track of your edit history, allowing you to roll back changes and quickly compare with the original image. A great extra is the fact that Polarr also supports RAW file formats. (Download Polarr)
While Chrome OS handles office documents just fine through Google Docs, formatting artifacts can still pop up when converting documents to and from Google's native document formats. If you really need maximum compatibility, then Microsoft's free Office Online app lets you create, open and edit MS Office documents, with support for Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote, and Sway. Users can fire up locally stored files, or work collaboratively through the cloud with OneDrive support, while working with the familiar Office interface and without having to worry about compatibility issues with other MS Office users. The great weakness though is that Office Online requires a net connection. (Download Office Online)
MightyText brings your Android smartphone and computer closer together, allowing you to sync your SMS messages and notifications from your phone to your desktop. You can send and receive SMS and MMS messages from you desktop, sync photos and videos and receive app notifications from your smartphone. You'll need to install the MightyText app on your phone, as well as on Chrome. (Download Mighty Text)
For a feature-packed Chrome OS document reader and PDF annotation tool, check out Kami, a browser-based word processor and collaboration tool that's designed to be at home both in the classroom and the workplace. Kami handles document files, spreadsheets and PDFs, while including annotation tools, e-signatures and more whether you're working offline or through Google Drive and Google Classroom. It's got a good spread of features, though its subscription model is sure to irk those not used to premium subscriptions for office software. (Download Kami)
Slack takes conventional instant messaging a step further to make a more useful group messaging and coordination tool. Slack covers your IM basics with real-time messaging synced across devices. It also supports file sharing, direct and group messaging tools. In addition, the app features a system of chat channels, allowing you to quickly set up subgroups for task or topic-oriented discussions. Slack archives your communications, allowing you to search through old messages, channels and shared files, and includes integration with a variety of services such as cloud storage, Asana, Zendesk and more. Premium plans provide more features, such as expanded file storage and better app integration. (Download Slack)
Cloud9 is a powerful cloud programming platform, with an online Ubuntu workspace and support for 40 different programming languages and collaborative editing. Users have access to a configurable environment and a tabbed, color-coded editing space that makes it easy to read and edit work. Free users get unlimited public workspaces and a single private workspace, while premium plans provide more features like unlimited private workspaces, 'hot' workspaces that are kept on for easy loading, team collaboration, and SSH workspaces. (Download Cloud9)