In celebration of the first wave of Chromebooks being released today, now is a great time to start looking for replacements for the tools you can’t live without on a day to day basis. Code editors, image editors, games? All of these can be replaced! I’ll show you the best choices today.
Cream Boas, you say?
Nope, it’s called Chrome OS. If you’ve been living under a rock all this while, which is quite literally a possibility considering your silly question, Chrome OS is a cutting edge operating system from Google that intends to change how we think about using a computer — a paradigm shift as it were.
Google is betting that the future of computing lies in the cloud and Chrome OS is a bold step towards that idea.
Chrome OS, to oversimplify, is simply Chrome running on a stripped out custom Linux distro. Every task you’ll need to do will have to happen through a web app since you don’t really get your typical access to the file system and so can’t install traditional apps without tinkering in the kernel.
If that last sentence made you weep, wipe those tears away, little padawan. There are plenty of apps out there that can handle your typical workload. We, as developers, have gotten used to our cozy, customized setups but that doesn’t mean that we can’t change, when needed.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the apps you’ll need to become productive again – filtered into different categories. The majority are apps from the Chrome Web Store while the rest are normal web apps that provide a desktop like experience.
- IDEs/Text Editors
- Image Editing
- Audio and Video Editing
- Social Networking
- Instant Messaging
Developers live inside IDEs and text editors. While it’s hard to replicate the entire Visual Studio suite inside a browser, there are plenty of options that should make development a pleasure on the cloud.
Kodingen is an Online Development Environment including Code Editor, Cloud Hosting, Database Administration, and Collaboration with access to a Web-based file system and FTP & SVN integration.
- Free developer accounts
- Connect to your own FTP Servers
- Shell access to your files
The use of image editors can’t be underestimated. I have PhotoShop open in my workstation almost all the time. Whether it comes to retouching a photo to fix a red eye or creating a quick mockup for your client, an image editor is unarguably one of the most important tools for a front end developer. To that end, feel free to look through the bevy of options linked below: they vary from bitmap to vector. One of the editors below even has pressure sensitivity!
Pixlr presents a full featured photo editor direct in your browser — no download, no wait and 100% free.
If you are used to working with Gimp, Paint shop pro or even Photoshop you will feel right at home with this online image editor. It contains lots of the features that you normally see in desktop applications but just one click away.
DeviantART’s muro is one a kind. It focuses more on the artistic side of drawing applications and when it comes to it, it’s the most powerful and easiest to use Web-based drawing application available. It’s compatible with more devices than any other application of its kind. With the ability to save drawings and load them again later, deviantART muro allows for hours of endless drawing fun anytime you want.
An incredibly useful and fun web-based image editor that can be utilized by anyone looking to retouch and manipulate a photo. From basic image editing to manipulating complex effects, Aviary’s Advanced Image Editor delivers essential key features available in powerful desktop clients right through your browser. Aviary provides its users with an easy-to-use and accessible application that will spawn creativity and sharing with every use!
MugTug Sketchpad brings your favorite digital painting tools to the browser with a tool set including paintbrush, texture stamp, and spiral brush.
Each tool has a broad range of settings, including: flow, opacity, diameter jitter and more. When combined with texture, color and gradient swatches, the possibilities are endless.
All tools in Sketchpad can be used in two different blending modes, paint and light, doubling your color and texture combinations and giving you limitless possibilities for self-expression.
Aviary’s Image Markup is the perfect tool for editing images on-the-go. Resizing, cropping, rotating, and other simple editing tools are at your fingertips. Aviary’s Image Markup runs lightning fast even on the slowest connections, which makes for great results and sharing in no time at all!
Picnik is photo editing awesomeness! There’s a complete set of tools from basic fixes to professional quality effects and cosmetic touch ups. Get creative with our selection of fonts, shapes and stickers. Plus: Picnik connects right to all your favorite photo sharing sites like Facebook, Picasa Web, Flickr, Photobucket, and more so it’s never been easier to connect and share with your photos!
sumopaint.com is a thriving online art community of over a 16 million unique users and over 350 000 registered members from over 220 countries. The primary purpose of the community is to create, share, remix, explore, comment, rate and fave the artwork of its members. Sumopaint.com hosts the internet’s most versatile painting / photo manipulation application called the Sumo Paint.
Aviary’s Vector Editor allows users to create fully scalable vector art appropriate for logos, tee shirt designs, and more. You won’t find a similar tool on the web! Working with paths, lines, curves, and objects, our Vector Editor is a powerful tool for beautiful layer-based vector creations that can be shared with friends and business partners alike!
Considering the stripped out nature of the Chrome OS, you’ll be left out with a number of nifty utilities that you’d need to get your work done. Thankfully, a lot of them have online versions and equivalents.
Create screen capture of visible part, selected area or whole page then you can edit them in pixlr editor or share them to public imm.io.
You also get a context menu for pulling down images to pixlr editor. Very handy tool!
Powerful calculator and converter for Chrome. It sports a simple but poweful interface. Large input/results box is what you need perfoming calculations. It comes standard with common math functions like sin(x), cos(x), sqrt(x), etc and poweful function shortcuts like a^b, a!, #a, a%b.
Jolicloud is the cloud desktop that makes it easy to manage everything you care about in the cloud. You can get started in seconds with Facebook Connect or signup for free and organize your entire collection of apps in a beautiful cloud desktop. You can launch and connect to your favorite Web services in just one click. More than 1,000+ apps are available from the Jolicloud App Center.
Most diagramming softwares require you to worry about things like choosing colors, drawing arrows, picking up the correct symbols, etc… All sort of things that get between your ideas and their representation.
With Lovely Charts’s extremely simple and intuitive drag’n drop drawing mechanism, you’re able to focus on what really matters. You won’t have to draw boxes or arrows, and you won’t have to worry about what symbol to use.
Fiabee for Chrome is an app that lets you intuitively manage all your files distributed across your many devices, directly from the web. You can specifically select which files you want to synchronize from your devices and store onto the others. By storing only what you choose rather than replicating all content everywhere, you’ll minimize on the use of space and memory.
This is basically a timer + alarm clock + stopwatch. Supports a countdown in the tab title and tab icon. You can choose any youtube clip to use as the audio alarm. It also works offline!
Ahh, office software. While I don’t get to them, I’m sure that’s not the case with the vast majority of you. A lot of big strides have been made in the recent years to the point that you can comfortably go with online services instead of being tied down to a single computer.
Google Docs is a free, Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, slide show, form, and data storage service offered by Google. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users.
Zoho Writer is an online word processor that lets you to access/edit/share your documents online.
Built using AJAX technology, it’s fast and revolutionizes the way you work with documents. Having all your documents online, you have access to them from any computer, at home or at work. And no more emailing them back-and-forth to your colleagues, clients or friends for review, thanks to its instant collaboration, inline commenting and chat facilities.
Create beautiful presentations, access them from anywhere, and share them with the world. With 280 Slides, there’s no software to download and nothing to pay for â€“ and when you’re done building your presentation you can share it any way you like.
SlideRocket lets you create great presentations that wow your audience. You can access and share your presentations anywhere since the app includes a HTML5 viewer for iPad and iPhone. Presentation analytics let you measure message impact and audience engagement. Easily record audio on your slides enabling on demand presentations.
Zoho Sheet is an online spreadsheet application that lets you create, edit, and share spreadsheets on the web. It comes in handy for business people, accountants, scientists, scholars, students and anyone who deal with tabular data and need to use spreadsheets. It can be used to work with large amount of data, formulas, and charts. You can also collaborate on a spreadsheet with multiple users in real time.
Audio and Video Editing
Heavy audio and video editing is one place where the cloud just can’t compete with the desktop. However, if you’re willing to make a few sacrifices there are a number of options that let you handle all the smaller projects comfortably.
Stupeflix is a web app to create amazing videos easily.
Whether you want to make a beautiful slideshow with your pictures, or create a professional video ad to promote your business, Stupeflix makes it incredibly easy so you can focus on telling your story.
It’s easy and free to try: you don’t need to create an account, and videos are free up to 60 seconds.
Aviary’s Audio Editor is a powerful audio editing tool used to remix your favorite songs or record your own. From trimming and looping your audio to reversing it altogether, Aviary’s Audio Editor allows for powerful clip editing. Creating a custom fade-out and adding pitch bends and reverb to your tunes couldn’t be easier. For even more possibilities, create beats in Aviary’s Music Creator and send them over to our Audio Editor to perfect them.
Audiotool is a great online music production studio right in your browser.
You can create melodies using the amazing Pulverisateur synthesizer or go completely crazy with the Rasselbock. Audiotool lets you create your own sounds by wiring more than fourteen different effects together with one of our three drum machines or synthesizers. There are endless possibilities.
Managing all your social networking accounts can truly be a chore if you need to have a ton of tabs open at the same time. Hand over that duty to one of the apps below and ease up the process dramatically.
Use HootSuite’s social media dashboard to update Twitter, Facebook & more networks, plus monitor real-time search and track results.
With HootSuite’s unique social media dashboard, you can schedule and publish to Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Foursquare, WordPress and more. Plus you can easily track trending topics and view campaign results without switching sites or apps. Also, you can get to your know your audience with information about their social presences, level of influence and publishing habits.
TweetDeck is your personal browser connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Google Buzz.
It brings together the power and flexibility of our award-winning desktop application, with a new cool and clear design, into an exciting new web app. Whether you are a social networking novice, or a technology powerhouse, TweetDeck will allow you to easily become master of your life online.
Seesmic Web is the easiest way to use all your social networks directly from a web browser. Seesmic Web supports multiple accounts, and feeds from Google Buzz, Foursquare, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Romping around on the internet seeking news is one of the main reasons that my productivity is so pathetically low. I imagine this is the case with a lot of you as well. Why would you need to get rid of this habit just because you’re using a new OS? Grab any of these apps below and procastinate away!
Experience the award-winning journalism of The New York Times through the Google Chrome OS. The NYTimes app for the Chrome Web Store is a sophisticated HTML5 application that leverages advanced browser features to deliver a unique and compelling reading experience that can be read online or offline.
The latest news, scores, weather, stocks and photos you’ve come to expect from USA TODAY and now available in a beautiful new way, in HTML5. Staying informed has never been this quick, easy or enjoyable.
Snapshot from Sports Illustrated delivers the world in sports photos every day to your desktop. The free app offers Sports Illustrated’s exclusive photos from our award-winning photographers, photo essays from the biggest global sporting events, rare images from our archives and up-to-the-minute sports information.
The Onion News Network delivers hard-hitting, up-to-the-minute reporting to more than 100 million households nationwide. Globally, the Onion’s network of branded channels and services reaches 811 countries in 152 languages.
NPR for Chrome: Experience NPR in magazine style with a focus on News, Arts & Life, and Music content that’s broad, deep, and timely. Popular features include playlist, hourly newscasts, station finder, and sharing.
Apps focused on project and task management have really taken off to the point that while desktop clients are present and fine, all the data lives in the cloud anyway. Using a web app is just a logical progression. Most of the apps here present a desktop like GUI with desktop-esque snappiness.
Springpad is a free application that makes it quick and easy to take notes and save anything you want to remember in one place – from tasks and lists to products, places, movies, recipes and more. It automatically organizes and enhances what you save with useful links and relevant offers to save you time and money. Everything you save is automatically synchronized and instantly accessible on the web and your phone.
Springpad for Chrome adds the additional capability of saving and accessing information even when you’re offline.
Evernote is an award-winning service that turns every computer and phone you use into an extension of your brain. Use Evernote to save your ideas, experiences and inspirations, then easily access them all at any time from anywhere. Capture your memories. Save all of your notes, research and projects into one place. Create task lists and to-dos so you’ll never forget a thing. Clip interesting webpages using Evernote browser extensions and plugins.
Zootool is a visual bookmark application for images, videos, documents and links. Organize your bookmarks in packs andadd tags to keep your Zoo tidy. Share your bookmarks with your friends via Email, on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.
A simple tool to save web pages for reading later. It gives you a Read Later bookmark. When you find something you want to read, but you don’t have time, click Read Later. Come back when you have time, or read your articles on the go. I use it a ton when I know I’m going to be on the road.
Todo.ly helps you to organize your tasks into projects and sub projects. Select icons for your projects to highlight them even more.
Managing Tasks and Projects can’t be easier! With the intuitive drag and drop you can simply move your task from one project to another.
Assign due date to your tasks not to forget them. Tasks will pop into your Today list as due dates approach. Sort the tasks within the project by Due Date to see what you need to focus on.
In this day and age of constant communication, IM clients are an absolute necessity. They’re pretty much one of the first things that I install. On the cloud, there are plenty of options offering all of the niceties of their desktop brethren — video chat included.
imo is a web application that allows users to hold text, voice and video chats. The service is free and requires no user-registration or sign-up. You can take your chat history with you wherever you go. Sending and receiving files is a cinch as is video and voice chat.. Star your favorite buddies for quick access
Meebo is an instant messenger that works with all of the popular networks.Provides a fairly sleek interface and is easy to use.
eBuddy Web Messenger is a full-featured multi-network instant messenger.
Use it to chat on Yahoo!, AIM, Facebook Chat, Google Talk, MSN and MySpace Chat.
As a self-diagnosed game-aholic who needs his fix daily, gaming on the cloud, on a semi-powered notebook can be hard. That being said there are number of casual games with excellent production qualities that deserve a lot. Hey, casual gaming is still gaming, right?
What more needs to be said? The all pervasive Angry Birds game is now playable on your Chromebook as well! Lay waste to those dastardly pigs with your truly angry birds. I loved it on my iPhone and I love it in the browser.
Mahjongg solitaire (also called Mahjong solitaire) is free and fun to play. This puzzle board game involves tile matching strategy, and is good for all ages.
Over half a dozen beautiful tile layouts available.
FarmVille is a farming social network game developed by Zynga. It is available as an Adobe Flash application and thus should have no issues with Chrome OS. The game is a freemium game, meaning there is no cost to play but players have the option of purchasing premium content.
RuneScape is a massively-multiplayer online game developed and published by Jagex Games Studio. The game is set in a fantasy world of warring races, ravaged landscapes and sinister powers. RuneScape is free-to-play and can be accessed on almost any PC with access to the internet.
RuneScape currently holds the world record as the most popular free MMO and has been played by over 180 million people worldwide.
Sinuous is a very straight forward (read: sinusoidal) and addictive game where your objective is to avoid colliding with red dots by moving your mouse pointer. As you progress through the levels you will notice the speed and number of dots on screen increasing.
The premier free online chess game. It features great graphics, three difficulty levels optimized for short and casual matches, autosave, 6 savegame slots and unlimited undo. Works offline – no internet connection is needed!
SparkChess is not aimed at professional chess players; it’s a chess game for the rest of us – challenging but fun! It implements all chess rules and has an extensive opening database.
A music playing app is always on my desktop — I simply can’t work without music. With Chrome OS, this can be a slight issue. The workaround would be to access one of the many streaming sites. Many of them provide a desktop like experience, with Grooveshark deserving a special mention.
Grooveshark is an internationally available online music search engine, music streaming service and music recommendation web software application, allowing users to search for, stream, and upload music free of charge that can be played immediately or added to a playlist.
Mflow is legal social music service funded by digital music sales rather than advertising; this allows us to provide an uninterrupted and fun listening experience.Discover, share and listen to music online legally, for free and without ads.
Create and contribute to mflow’s revolutionary new massively collaborative playlists by including hashtags like #lazysunday and #upliftingtrance in your recommendations.
Listen to any of our 5 million tracks for free and then share the music to your friends and followers on facebook, twitter and mflow.
Soundtracker makes it easy to discover and play the music your friends and your neighbors are listening to. Use Soundtracker to comment on your friends’ stations, check their latest music, and more. Discover your city’s favorite artists. Access any artist, any genre from the largest music catalog on Internet radio with more than 10 million songs for FREE. Create your own radio stations and share them with your friends via Facebook.
Pandora is personalized internet radio that is designed to help you discover new music you’ll love mixed in with music you already know.
Pandora is powered by the most comprehensive analysis of music ever undertaken, the Music Genome Project: a crazy project started over ten years ago to capture the complex musical DNA of songs using a large team of highly-trained musicians.
Pandora is always free, with the option to pay for additional features.
That’s a Wrap
Phew. That was a long list, wasn’t it? I hope it contained at least a couple of apps that you hadn’t heard of before. As I am absolutely sure, there are a ton of apps that I’m missing. Chime in at the comments and I’ll update this list accordingly. Thank you so much for reading!