Breaking News

Chromebooks and ChromeOS devices in general are slowly shaping up to be the all-in-one device you will ever need


The original use case of Chromebooks seemed modest enough - to have an affordable and lightweight device that can quickly boot up and let you access a browser for checking web-based email services, access social media accounts, and search the internet. There will be no worries of losing files since everything will be accessed through the cloud. A lot of people were skeptical (probably having had bad experiences with mediocre netbooks in the past which had a very similar premise) but the fact remains that most people don't really need most of the computing power normal laptops and desktops have for their normal routine. For most people, smartphones satisfy most of their requirements for being connected, but let's be honest, composing anything longer than a short email is not that great on a smaller screen.

The first Chromebook I have used is the Lenovo Chromebook S100 (confusingly named very similar to the Lenovo Ideapad S100 which is a Windows 10 netbook). It was cheap, lightweight, excellent battery life (could go on for a whopping 10 hours of continuous moderate use and for a week with intermittent use before it needs to be charged), and reasonably fast boot times (surprisingly so if you have gotten used to older Windows machines without an SSD). It wasn't actually mine but was my mother who is in her late 70's - a further testament on how easy it is to switch coming from using Microsoft Windows on her aging desktop computer. She was completely happy with the switch except for one thing - she preferred using Skype over Google Hangouts for video chats so she would still occasionally fire up the old machine to get some video chat time with her granddaughter (my niece).

Chromebooks have come a long way since then. Thanks to the ubiquitousness of the Android platform, once the Play Store became available on newer Chromebooks on the get-go and through software updates on older models (even our old 100s has a "coming soon" in the Play Store development pipeline), the usefulness of these once thought of as very limited functionality devices has skyrocketed. Granted that not all Android apps work on Chromebooks that support the Play Store, and the cheaper models not having a touchscreen can be a problem for some applications, but this marriage of this 2 platforms makes Chromebooks more compelling as a complete replacement for more traditional laptops running full-blown desktop operating systems (Windows, MacOS, Linux), of course, subject to each individual's computing needs.

Speaking of full-blown desktop operating systems, Linux availability on certain Chromebooks has just landed on the stable channel via Chrome OS 69 (thanks to the Crostini project), again significantly expanding the flexibility of these machines. OK, some might not get too excited with the ability to run Linux applications (especially for Windows users), but consider this - if an application can run on WINE then it will be able to run on a Chromebook (although lack of graphics acceleration, audio, and some other issues do exist). And for me, running Linux applications is not even the most exciting thing to come up with project Crostini. Project Crostini at its heart is all about running sandboxed virtual machines (VM) in ChromeOS. Linux is just the tip of the iceberg! Think of a seemingly platform-agnostic machine that can run an application that has been specifically written for any of the major platforms (well it is not really platform-agnostic as these programs will run in a container VM of the OS that supports it). Interestingly enough, we have already seen this kind of direction towards a platform-agnostic environment with the push for web applications
ChromeOS might or might not be that future platform to fully realize this, but for the time being, the future of ChromeOS looks bright indeed.

No comments