Android apps on Chrome

I’ve long been a proponent of Chromebooks. When they hit the market, Microsoft openly mocked the devices, but have since released the Surface as something of a response. Chromebooks have continued to thrive taking a big chunk of the education market while still getting criticized as just a web browser.

I’ve commented numerous times that the addition of Android apps would be monumental to Chrome OS. This Wired.com review of the Pixelbook, however, has given me pause. As a Chromebook fan I’m used to people saying how great they are with extended battery life, ridiculously fast boot time, and low price tag (with the exception of the primo Pixelbook starting at $999). David Pierce at Wired used the Pixelbook over a couple of weeks and has a lot of typical positive things to say about the versatility and its specs. Unfortunately he says Android apps suck on the Pixelbook. Wait, you mean the Pixelbook isn’t infalliable?

Of course Chromebooks aren’t perfect, but adding Android apps was supposed to be a game changer. If apps suck on the top-of-the-line Pixelbook, that doesn’t bode well for all the other Chromebooks on the market. Basically, apps open as small, cell-phone sized rectangles. Trying to resize them to fit the 12.3″ Pixelbook screen causes chaos. Pierce concedes this is the first time apps are officially available out of beta on Chrome. He mentions that Evernote runs smoothly as an app, but they also got a three year head start as one of the very first apps available for Chrome. So millions of Android apps are available but developers need to work on making them more compatible with Chrome OS.

I haven’t used a Chromebook since my HP died on me. I haven’t had much need for one anyway now that I’m finished with school, although it would be nice to write these blog posts with a laptop rather than on my phone. It’s too much work getting out the Windows laptop that inevitably needs to be updated every time I turn it on. I’ve had my eye on the Asus Chromebook Flip. I like that it’s a convertible with a touch screen. It’s a little disappointing that the addition of Android apps aren’t making a bigger splash. Despite Android apps not being entirely stable yet, that won’t stop me from eventually getting another Chromebook.

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Farewell Chromebook

This HP 14 Chromebook got me through the last two years of college. I haven’t been using it as much anymore, but it has always been handy to have on hand because of how quickly it starts and connects to the web.  Unfortunately this is what the screen now looks like. At some point I dropped it on concrete. It isn’t made of the sturdiest material and part of the case cracked but the only other casualty at the time was that it wouldn’t hold a charge anymore. It has been a minor inconvenience to keep it plugged in, but coupled with the screen crapping out, I think it’s time to say good bye.  

I paid a little more than the standard HP 14 model at the time at $350 for 4 GB RAM and 32 GB SSD. I probably could have gone without the larger hard drive, but still a decent deal for having survived a little over 3 years. I haven’t been paying much attention to the newer Chromebook models but I would definitely buy another one, especially since they are shipping with Android app support. Because of that it makes sense to get a touchscreen and possibly a 2-in-1, but I’m in no hurry to find a replacement. Thanks for the memories HP 14!

If you’re curious about Chromebooks, here are the 7 best so far of 2017

End of Life Policy

I read an article today that pointed out Google’s End of Life policy.  The policy states:

“When a device reaches End of Life (EOL), it means that the product model is considered obsolete and automatic software updates from Google are no longer guaranteed.”

Part of what’s great about Chrome OS are the automatic updates.  Unlike the annoying and inconvenient Windows updates, Chrome updates are frequent and only require a reboot at the user’s leisure.  According to the policy, Chromebooks will only receive updates for five years.  I don’t have a problem with the five year policy.  Not many devices last that long anyway.  I had my first iPhone for three years before upgrading.  I’ve had my latest phone for a little over two years and I’m already looking at upgrading.  A five year old (windows) laptop is likely slow and laggy.  According to Google’s policy, the EOL date for my Chromebook is November 2018.  I’ve had my Chromebook for about two and a half years and it’s still doing well.  Admittedly I’ve beat the thing up a bit and that is likely why it won’t work unless connected to power.  I would still prefer being tethered to a power outlet rather than use the Windows laptop that takes forever to load.  With all the new Chromebooks out and Android apps coming, it’s difficult not to want to upgrade well before the EOL date of my current device.