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The Best Android Apps You Should be Using On Your Chromebook

If you’re lucky enough to have a modern Chromebook that can run Android apps, you should definitely be taking advantage of this awesome new feature. And if you’re in the market for a new Chromebook, make sure you get one that can run Android apps out of the box. Here are the apps that make it worthwhile.

The State of Android Apps on Chromebooks

Android apps have been available on specific Chromebooks for about a year now. While Google initially anticipated a full rollout by this time, it has proven to be more of a challenge than they originally thought. As a result, Android app availability on Chromebooks has been much slower than originally planned. There are still only a handful of Chromebooks out there than have access to the Play Store, with many more still in the works.

When I first went hands on with Android apps (on the ASUS Flip C100, the first Android device to get access to the Play Store) it was a buggy, mostly unstable experience that ultimately did show a lot of potential. Over the last year it has gotten much better, with the majority of apps—especially ones that are constantly updated—offering a very stable, usable experience.

Since the first test piece, I’ve upgraded my Chromebook to the ASUS Flip C302, which uses an intel Core m3 processor. It’s a great machine, but take note: Intel chips don’t provide as good of an experience as ARM processors do when it comes to Android apps right now. I haven’t had very many issues with mine, but I’d be remiss to not mention it as a potential issue.

Either way, that may be a tradeoff you’re willing to deal with (as I am) since Intel processors typically have much better performance than ARM chips. And like I said, I haven’t noticed a huge hit in my day to day Android app usage, save for a few games here and there which don’t perform all that well.

All in all, I’d say Google is making decent progress with Android apps on the devices they currently work on, though I also understand that the delays in rolling the feature out to more Chromebooks is frustrating to many users, especially ones who purchased a Chromebook with the expectation of being able to access the Play Store before now.

Android Apps vs. Chrome Apps

This is really what we’re here to talk about: the Android apps that you should at least check out on your Chromebook. Some of these apps work better (or at least as well) as their Chrome counterparts, while others are in a class all their own without a legitimate “competitor” in the Chrome Web Store.

And while we’re on this subject, I have a theory that I want to share on why many Android apps work better than their Chrome equivalents. Essentially, Android apps are built for slower processors and oftentimes limited RAM environments. As a result, they’re far more resource aware, and generally make the best on much more limited hardware than Chrome does. Because most Chrome apps aren’t necessarily designed with Chromebooks in mind, but rather Chrome Desktop, they can be a bit more resource needy. As a result, they can easily bog down Chromebooks, since most don’t have the resources that are available on the majority of desktop machines.

But that’s just a theory. I think it’s pretty sound.

Anyway, let’s talk about some apps.

Productivity

When it comes to getting things done, there are a lot of people out there who think you can’t work from a Chromebook. I beg to differ, especially when Android apps are thrown into the mix. There are a lot of really useful tools on the Play Store, and many of them work very well on Chromebooks. Here’s a quick look at some you should at least consider giving a shot.

  • Gmail/Inbox: Regardless of whether you’re a Gmail or Inbox user, both of these Android apps run faster and smoother than their Chrome counterparts on Chromebooks.
  • Keep: If you use Google Keep for lists and whatnot,…

How to Refresh Your Google Play Music Library and Find Your Missing Tracks

One of Google Play Music’s strengths, aside from the verbal workout you get from its lengthy name, is that you can upload your own music, follow podcasts, and sync all of your songs and tracks across all devices. Occasionally, however, Play Music takes a while to figure out that you’ve uploaded new songs or that there are new episodes of your favorite podcasts. Here’s how to refresh your library and find your missing tracks.

Occasionally, you might find that Google Play Music hasn’t updated your library with your music or…

How to Upload Your Music Collection to Amazon Music (So You Can Play It from the Echo)

Although there’s something to be said for the convenience of streaming music services, there’s also something to be said for enjoying music from your personal collection, especially if it involves rare or obscure stuff not found on the streaming services. If you want to be able to access your personal music library online—for example, if you want to play it through the Amazon Echo—you can upload all your songs to Amazon Music for access anywhere.

Sure, you could get your personal music pumping through your Echo by pairing your phone with the Echo via Bluetooth, but you won’t get to control the music with your voice, which is the whole point of the Echo in the first place. For most people, Google Play is probably a better bet for uploading your music—since it’s free for 50,000 songs. But if you want integration with the Amazon Echo, you’ll have to go with Amazon’s music service.

Unfortunately, you’ll probably have to pay up for that privilege. Dveryone gets storage space for 250 songs free with their Amazon account, but if you want to upload more than 250 songs, you’ll need an Amazon Music Unlimited account ($7.99 a month for Prime members, $9.99 a month for everyone else). The Unlimited account not only gives you access to tens of millions of streaming songs, but it also boosts your personal storage limit from 250 to 250,000 songs.

That said, any music you’ve bought on Amazon does not count toward that storage. That doesn’t just apply to MP3s, either—many physical media purchases on Amazon are eligible for their “AutoRip” service. This means that even if you got a CD or vinyl record in the mail, a digital copy of that album was probably automatically added to your Amazon Music collection (whether you realized it or…

7 ways Apple App Store can become better than Google Play Store

7 ways Apple App Store can become better than Google Play Store

Apple or Google? That’s the root of many debates in tech. Which has better phones, computers, apps, app stores, virtual assistants, VR/AR technology? The list goes on. With Google’s developer conference in May and Apple hosting its developer conference in early June, the debate is only going to be heightened, particularly around apps and the app store.

Currently Google is winning the “App Store Race” – no one can deny that. The Apple App Store and Google Play Store – two of largest app stores – look similar on the surface, but their technology and processes behind the scenes are completely different. While Apple has created an exceptionally smooth and clean operating system, Google is more attractive and supports a wider range of smartphones than Apple.

Ahead of Apple’s developer conference, I’ve taken the liberty of addressing seven ways the Apple Store can emerge stronger than the Google Play Store.

1) Openness

One of the reasons why a lot of people choose Android over iOS is its “openness,” in terms of private distribution of apps via their website which bypasses the Google Play Store all together. Apple, on the other hand, does not allow users to do that, unless its enterprise level distribution for in-house staff. To surpass Google, Apple will need make their app store more open.

2) App distribution

In terms of apps getting approved for distribution on Apple, they have strict App Store guidelines, and every title is tested by a human before going live. In comparison,…

Google gives developers more monetization options with Payment API, redesigned AdMob, and Play store ads

While Google’s Marketing Next conference is next week, the company had some developer-specific ads news to share at its I/O 2017 developer conference. The company highlighted three improvements for developers: the Google Payment API, a redesigned AdMob, and

Google has expanded its payment solutions with the Google Payment API, which lets merchants and developers offer their users to pay with credit and debit cards saved to their Google Account. Payment options include a credit or a debit card previously saved via Android Pay, a payment card used to transact on the Play Store, or a form of payment stored via Chrome. They can use these saved payment options in third-party apps and mobile sites, as well as in Google Assistant.

For users, the API means faster checkout as they are more likely to be able to have a saved card when they see the option to pay with Google on supported apps or sites. For developers, the API means faster checkout, more conversions, increased sales, and fewer abandoned carts.

Google has completely redesigned AdMob, which has paid over $3.5 billion in ads revenue to developers across 1 million apps on Android and iOS. Rebuilt from the ground up, AdMob has embraced Google’s Material Design on desktop and mobile. For example, it’s now easier to pick an app, check out its key metrics, and…

Netflix is blocking rooted Android phones from downloading its app

Netflix is blocking rooted Android phones from downloading its app

If you’ve rooted your Android phone in order to gain access to more settings than the average user, you will no longer be able to grab Netflix’s app from Google Play, as the company is blocking downloads on such devices.

With our latest 5.0 release, we now fully rely on the Widevine DRM provided by Google; therefore, many devices that are not Google-certified or have been altered will no longer work with our latest app and those users will no longer see the Netflix app in the Play Store.

While the decision to block downloads from…

How to Get the Most Out of Your Android TV

If you’re an Android user, Android TV is a great way to bring your mobile OS (and your favorite apps) to the big screen. And if you’re looking to get more from your Android TV box, this is a collection of few tips and tricks to help supercharge your experience.

If you’re really looking for more information on Android TV (and which box you should buy), this post probably isn’t for you…yet. First, I’d take a look at what Android TV is all about, along with a few recommendations of some of the best Android TV boxes on the market right now. Then, come back here and get started tweaking.

Re-arrange Your Apps

Just like on your phone, you can pick and choose the order of your apps on Android TV, as long as your box is running Android 6.0 and above. It’s actually really simple to do:

  1. Long press the icon you want to move,
  2. When the screen turns gray, move the icon around,
  3. Use the “select” button to drop the icon.
  4. Hit “Done.”

That’s all there is to it. If you want a more in depth look at re-arranging home screen icons, check out our primer.

Expand Your Device’s Storage

If there’s one negative thing to say about most Android TV boxes, it’s that they don’t have enough internal storage. Fortunately, you can use an external hard drive on most Android TV boxes to add more storage, or even an SD card on certain models to make the expansion process even easier.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a blanket method here—it all depends on what your device support. The good news is that we have an excellent tutorial on adding an external hard drive…

Google selects Android app and game nominees for the 2017 Play Awards

VB Summit 2017 has just announced its line-up of pre-eminent speakers who are using AI to grow their businesses. Join us on June 5-6 and learn more!

Google has unveiled the nominees for the Google Play Awards 2017, scheduled for May 18 at 6:30 p.m. Pacific during the company’s I/O 2017 developer conference. There are 12 categories this year, including four new ones: Best VR/AR Experience, Best Multiplayer Game, Best Social Impact, and Best Accessibility Experience.

Google explains that nominees were selected “much like last year by cross-functional teams throughout Google who work hand-in-hand with the relevant categories and product areas.” There are category-specific criteria as well as the common requirements: high star rating, technical performance, and freshness (a launch or major update since April 2016).

This is Google’s way of recognizing developers of quality Android apps and games from across the world. Nominees come from a variety of countries, including Vietnam, France, Russia, Brazil, Uruguay, South Korea, China, and more.

Without further ado, here are the 12 categories and…

How to Get Free Money From Google By Answering Quick Surveys

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a search engine in possession of a good fortune must be in want of more data. If you want to earn some extra money (in the form of Google Play Credit), Google will give you some in exchange for answering a few occasional survey questions.

The Google Opinion Rewards app periodically gives you surveys consisting of a few simple questions. Most are based around your shopping habits and come from market researchers. If you’d like to know how your data will be used, you can read Google’s FAQ on the subject uses here.

The rewards you get won’t pay your bills or anything, but each survey rewards anywhere from ten cents to a dollar or so for a few seconds of your time. It seems small, but it can add up fast—and when it does, and you can get free movie rentals or buy a couple games on the Play Store. Google Play credit even works on in-app purchases, so you can buy Pokéballs or comic books. All for passing a few seconds of time when you’re bored waiting in line at the grocery store.

To get started, download the Google Opinion Rewards app. The first time you launch it, the app will ask you a series of demographic questions. Once you’re finished with those, you can wait for new surveys to show up. You’ll usually see them when you get a notification like the one below.

When you get the notification, tap on it. Most surveys begin with an explanation of how this…