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It's Time to Consider the Chromebook for Everyone

It's no secret that I'm in Google's corner on many things. Chromebooks are one of those things. Recently, Chromebooks have become even better. How so you might ask? It all started with an announcement at this year's Google I/O. Starting in ChromeOS 53, many Chromebook models will be able to install and run apps from the Google Play Store.

What does that mean exactly? The Play Store gives Chromebooks access to hundreds of thousands of Android Apps! Yup, that's right, user's can run Android Apps on their Chromebooks. This has huge implications for everyone, but especially in Education. Chromebooks have often been cast aside by some because they cannot install applications. Starting this fall (you can even do so now on select models of Chromebooks if you run the Developer Channel of ChromeOS), apps are coming to Chromebooks.

That in and of itself is really awesome news, but it this news takes things every further because it will allow people to run Windows Apps on Chromebooks as well. Check out this Android Police article for more information. Many people would claim that just Android apps aren't enough, but with the ability to run Windows Apps too, Chromebooks have become far more powerful.

While these new developments are great, there are some important details people need to consider when buying a Chromebook. I have a Chromebook Pixel 2, and it is currently running the Play Store. With the apps I have tried, it works great so far. I can now use Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint if I wanted for example. Also there are several apps like Hangouts, that I prefer the Android version of for things like chat.  However, the Pixel is high end and lots of processing power and memory when compared to many lower end Chromebooks. It also has a touchscreen, which can often make things much easier with Android Apps which are designed for phones and tablets.

There are also some great Chromebooks out there on the lower end that seem to be getting good reviews with the new Play Store integration. The Asus Chromebook Fip and the Acer R11. The reason that these two Chromebooks are great for the Play Store is that they are convertibles. This means  they can be flipped into a tablet mode allowing you to use it like a tablet with the keyboard disabled. They are both inexpensive at less than $300. It's important to note that both of these Chromebooks need to be purchased with 4GB of RAM if someone wants to use these features. It's also important to note that these are sometimes hard to find.

The good news is that there will be many more Chromebooks with touchscreens and convertibles will be on the way and slightly more expensive, but more capable hardware wise are on the way. At any rate, we are in a time where Chromebooks have become a computer that everyone except those with very specific software needs should buying Chromebooks. K-12 Education has embraced them, but Higher Ed, the government/public sector and private businesses should begin embracing them as well.

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