The 10 best Android apps to run on your Chromebook

The web is great and all, but these Android apps rise above the performance and quality of their Web-only cousins.

chromebook
Android is taking up residence in Chrome OS

Android and Chrome are better together. Google continues to tie the laces between the two operating systems, giving developers—and adventurous everyday users—the tools to put Android apps on Chrome OS.

Be warned: This effort is definitely in the early stages, so if you’re uncomfortable with running into some glitches along the way then it may be best to tread very slowly before trying to turn your Chromebook into a second home for all your Android apps. 

After spending some time with several Android apps that have become Chrome-friendly, however, the concept shows a lot of promise. If you’re ready to merge your mobile and desktop worlds, here are several Android apps worth trying out on your Chromebook. You may even find in a few cases they’re actually preferable to the web-based version, as mobile apps are sometimes designed to be more focused on the task at hand, stripping away other unnecessary elements.

cloudmagic
CloudMagic

The CloudMagic Android app is the best option for keeping tabs on multiple email accounts inside a single application. 

It serves you well on a Chromebook because Google's operating system doesn't come with a desktop email app like Outlook, which can manage all your email accounts. So if you want to string together Gmail, Exhange, and an IMAP account, this is the most convenient option.

CloudMagic has a clean interface and a lot of tie-ins to third-party services like Evernote, Pocket, and OneNote. It also ran very smooth in Chrome OS, making it a good contender for serving as your main email solution.

evernote
Evernote

The Evernote web app works pretty well, but the company made a lot of strides in bringing Google's Material Design to its Android app. That makes it great Chromebook option if you're an Android user and a fan of Google's new aesthetic. 

Evernote isn't glitch-free on a Chromebook, as I found that one of the top menu bars mimed Christmas lights and kept blinking intermittently. I liked the interface consistency that came from being able to use the same Android layout and design cues that I'm used to on my phone, however.

You can grab Evernote's Android app from the Chrome Web Store.

vine on chrome
Vine

Vine is a perfect candidate for trying out Android apps on Chromebooks, as the mobile app is more focused on serving up the videos than the web version. 

The app sticks to the smartphone form factor, so you're better suited to shifting to the corner of the desktop instead of going full-screen. I found it scrolled a little weirdly at times on my Toshiba Chromebook 2, though that experience could vary depending upon your device. 

If you like Vine, it's worth trying it out to see if you prefer using the Android app on your Chromebook to navigating to the web version.

skype android
Skype

C'mon. It's Skype! And running the Android app is the only way to get Microsoft's extremely popular voice- and video-calling service on a Chromebook.

tapatalk
Tapatalk

Tapatalk is another good distractor to take you away from actual productivity. It takes a different spin on the concept of a social network by giving you a stream of online forum posts from topics that you select.

The Tapatalk Android app is the only way to get to the service on a Chromebook. It's a decent way to kill some time, and it shows how enabling Android apps for Chrome can connect you to services that run only on mobile devices.

overdrive
OverDrive

Sometimes you need a break from all that work. OverDrive is an app that connects you to libraries worldwide for borrowing eBooks, audiobooks, and other digital content.

OverDrive's Android app for Chrome gives you the immediacy of the Android app by letting you jump right back into the book you're reading. Also, if you're interested in checking out the available TV shows or movies through the mobile app, installing it on your Chromebook is a must. 

Finding content can be tricky as you have to navigate through various libraries that have connected to the system, but it's a solid way to get free, legal content.

duolingo
Duolingo

Duolingo is the budget-friendly way to try and take on another language. The app isn't anywhere near as expensive as that other language-learning tool named after a famous rock. 

Duolingo walks you through language learning with a series of picture and word games, starting you out with simple words and then moving on to more complex phrases. 

The app may not be enough to completely teach you a lanaguage from scratch, but it's a good way to learn the basics or elevate your vocabulary. This Android app works particularly well on Chrome and benefits from the mobile layout, which puts the content front and center.

slideshare
SlideShare

SlideShare is like a social network for presentations. The app claims over 15 million slide shows in its database, organized by categories like business, technology, and education.

The Android app is a good implementation on Chrome, as you can scroll through the various screens to glance at the wide variety of slideshows. It's a good way to let your mind wander and convince your co-workers that you're actually being productive. And who knows? You may stumble across some good ideas.

iannotate
iAnnotate

The iAnnotate app is a solid solution if you want to mark up PDFs on a Chromebook. Because it's an Android app it's easy to follow the interface by knowing that the tools will be located on a slideout menu from the left. 

Connect iAnnotate to your Google Drive. You can pull in any file for signing or adding other types of digital ink. 

Unfortunately, iAnnotate can be rather buggy, as it crashed several times when I tried it out. So while bringing this to Chrome is promising, you may need to use it on Android or iOS until all the bugs are worked out—though it's still a good solution in a pinch on Chromebooks. 

photo editor
Photo Editor

There are plenty of good photo editing tools for Chromebooks. Photo Editor is another option that excels at being simple—perhaps too simple—but remember, it is free. If you connect the app to Google Drive, you can pull in any of your existing images for minor tweaks or edits.