ChromeOS Won’t Be Complete Until it Meets These Requirements
I bought a Macbook Pro years ago and told myself that I would never switch to anything else. Then my kids got Chromebooks from their schools right around the time my latest Macbook stopped working.
Compared to the $1,800 price tag on a Macbook, those Chromebooks seemed like a steal at $120.
Looking it over and talking with some people who already made the switch, I decided to try it out. Worst case, my kids had a replacement Chromebook when the schools took theirs back. I didn’t grab the $120 Samsung my kids had — instead, I opted for a $300 Acer (the same one featured in the picture above).
While I didn’t expect the screen to have the same resolution as a Macbook, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the keyboard worked. It took a minute to get used to how it wasn’t centered, given that Macbooks don’t have number pads on the side.
Then I started downloading the apps. I was intrigued by the fact that Chromebooks used the Play Store, which I was familiar with from cellphones. What shocked me was that the apps were the same as the cellphone versions. For giggles, I downloaded a game app, and it popped up in verticle cellphone format. I was disappointed.
I was pleasantly surprised by how well the keyboard worked.
Given how prevalent cloud usage is for storing files and how many web apps have become commonplace, I expect something akin to the Chromebook to replace non-gaming computers eventually. But they’re not ready yet.
Chromebooks can’t compete, yet
The ChromeOS continues to fascinate me. I love how it works and the ideas for what it could mean for the future of mobile computing, but for ChromeOS to compete with Windows or Mac OS, it’s going to have to stop acting like a mobile device.
For those who use computers to work on the internet or conduct basic Microsoft software tasks, Google products (Docs, Sheets, Slides…) have got you covered.
I expect something akin to the Chromebook to replace non-gaming computers eventually.
Where I found ChromeOS lacking the most is on the creative side. With almost every creative field projected to see positive job growth through 2026, and nearly all of those jobs requiring a large amount of work done on a computer, ChromeOS, and developers who make creative software, need to catch up.
Here are the areas I find especially lacking.
Screenwriters and authors
The big names in creative writing software are Microsoft Word, Scrivener, and Final Draft. Of the three, only Microsoft Word is available on Chromebooks.
It would be great if Scrivener had a web app, as Google Drive can be used to decent effect for structuring files, but the workflow gets messy pretty fast. For creative writers, nothing beats Scrivener for setting up a clean workflow.
The big names in creative writing software are Microsoft Word, Scrivener, and Final Draft.
Screenwriters suffer even further, as the best app for screenwriting on ChromeOS, WriterDuet, doesn’t hold a candle to Final Draft. The ability to never type a character or location name more than once and the super-slick writing flow and element transitions found in Final Draft were hard for me to let go of.
One nice thing about writing on ChromeOS: since everything is done online, I’ve yet to come across a page where Grammarly doesn't jump in and help me edit. Word, Scrivener, and Final Draft don’t have that level of editing. So there’s a silver-lining.
Artists and photographers
If you work with art or photography, then Adobe software is a must. Since giving up my Macbook, I’ve begun using Canva.com. It’s remarkably good at graphic design and document layout, but it doesn’t give me the photo editing control that Photoshop does.
Adobe products are such powerful tools for visual creatives that I don’t see them making the switch until the landscape changes entirely, or Adobe gets onboard with developing for ChromeOS. There aren’t enough options in this area yet.
Filmmakers and musicians
This is another area where Adobe dominates the field, but Apple has made some great strides over the last dozen or so years with Final Cut and Garageband to be included.
Unfortunately, this is another area where it’s difficult to find anything to replace it with. I’ll be launching a YouTube channel soon, and most of the video editing will be done on my iPhone using iMovie and Videoleap.
Some who might be able to make the switch
Some creatives might be able to jump to ChromeOS without too much difficulty:
- Authors, particularly those who don’t outline and only need the single Google Doc for their entire book.
- Most web designers, those who focus on Wordpress or similar platforms for their websites.
- Non-fictional article writers who work on platforms like Medium.com.
No matter who you are, making the switch will not come easy, not if you’ve been working on other computers for any appreciable amount of time. It is possible; I’ve been working on a Chromebook for a couple of months now and have almost fully adapted.
Even if ChromeOS doesn’t tailor directly to creatives, everyone needs a creative outlet. Whether that outlet is gaming, vlogging, or writing a story, ChromeOS has just enough to scratch that creative itch while making the process irritating and unfulfilling.
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