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. The price is higher than an iPad, but I think I’d still rather have the chromebook. Even without stable apps, I like that it is a touch screen convertible and has a bigger screen than the iPad. The only problem I have is the screen is too big for reading a book. I could go to an iPad mini, but then I lose screen size for everything else I do. I’ll stick with the kindle for reading. It really comes down to screen size and the ease of having a full keyboard at all times.
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.