Google may have decided to shutter Chrome apps on desktop versions of its browser, but Chrome apps remain an essential part of the separate Chromebook and Chrome OS ecosystem, with an ever-expanding library of apps that add tons of functionality to the browser-based OS. Users of some of the latest Chromebooks can even get Android apps from the Google Play Store and install them to their Chrome OS device. From cloud programming tools to image editors, from note-taking software to music tools, here are the 30 best Chrome apps right now.
Code Weavers' CrossOver is a popular tool for running Windows software on a Mac, and now, there's also a Chrome OS app in public beta that allows you to run Windows software and games on Intel-based Chromebooks without needing to dual-boot or run a virtual machine. Users can download the CrossOver app from the Google Play Store, and CrossOver boasts compatibility with a wide array of apps, from Quicken and Microsoft Office to Steam. (Download CrossOver on Chrome OS)
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)
Of course, you don't even need a full-featured photo editor if you're just looking to take and annotate screenshots. Nimbus Screenshot is a Chrome browser extension that works offline and online to capture your browser window or the whole webpage with a single key press. In addition to screenshots, you can record screencasts, edit and annotate screenshots, and save them online or locally on your device. (Download Nimbus Screenshot)
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)
As knowledge bases and academic work begins to turn more and more to online resources, keeping track of your references and sources becomes more and more critical in the ephemeral online environment. Paperfile is an online reference management service that lets users generate properly formatted citations for sources, as well as organize and keep track of weblinks, papers, PDFs, and other sources, which can be tagged, starred or annotated. The service comes with a 30-day free trial, and costs $2.99 per month. (Download Paperfile)
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)