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Play Store for Chromebook: everything you need to know

The Google Play Store is now accessible to certain Chromebooks.

However, the Play Store’s newfound availability raises a series of practical questions. What Chromebooks currently have access to the Play Store? How do you activate access to the Play Store? Is the Play Store for Chromebooks the same as the one for smartphones?

If you have ever asked yourself any of these questions and if you are looking for clear and precise answers, then this article was written for you.

What Chromebooks currently have access to the Play Store?

The Play Store is currently available to all of the Chromebooks included in the following table.

New models are regularly being granted access to the Play Store as new updates are released.

Please note that Chromebook access to the Play Store is currently in its beta testing phase. As a result, you should expect to encounter software bugs.

What Chromebooks will have access to the Play Store in the future?

Google has announced that all of the Chromebooks launched in 2017 – or later – will be compatible with the Play Store in the future.

As far as older Chromebooks are concerned, here is a list of the models that will be granted access to the Play Store in the future.

Fabricant Model
Acer Chromebook 11 C740
Chromebook 11 CB3-111 / C730 / C730E / CB3-131
Chromebook 14 CB3-431
Chromebook 14 for Work
Chromebook 15 CB5-571 / C910
Chromebook 15 CB3-531
Chromebook 15, CB3-532
Chromebox CXI2
Chromebase 24
Chromebook R13, CB5-312T
Asus Chromebook C200
Chromebook C201PA
Chromebook C202SA
Chromebook C300SA/C301SA
Chromebook C300
Chromebox CN62
Chromebit CS10
AOpen Chromebox Commercial
Chromebase Commercial 22″
Bobicus Chromebook 11
Dell Chromebook 11 3120
Chromebook 13 7310
Haier Chromebook 11
Chromebook 11e
Chromebook 11 G2
HiSense Chromebook 11
HP Chromebook 11 G3 / G4 / G4 EE / G5
Chromebook 14 G4
Chromebook 13
Lenovo 100S Chromebook
N20 / N20P Chromebook
N21 Chromebook
ThinkCentre Chromebox
ThinkPad 11e Chromebook
N22 / N42 Chromebook
Thinkpad 13 Chromebook
Thinkpad 11e Chromebook Gen 3
ThinkPad 11e Yoga Chromebook
ThinkPad 11e Yoga Chromebook Gen 3
Samsung Chromebook 2 11″ – XE500C12
Chromebook 3
Toshiba Chromebook 2
Chromebook 2 (2015)

What is the Play Store?

The Google Play Store sells applications for use on the Android operating system. It has been accessible to Android smartphones and tablets since 2012 as well as to certain Chromebooks since 2016.

As of 2017, the Play Store has over 2.7 million applications, making it the world’s largest app store.

The Play Store is also the world’s most diverse app store. It hosts a wide range of applications belonging to many different categories such as entertainment, productivity, education, finance, health, shopping, and sports.

The Play Store also has the worlds largest collection of game apps. Some of its most popular games have even been downloaded hundreds of millions of times such as Candy Crush, Subway Surfers, Temple Run, Clash of Clans or Clash Royale.

Google Play Store takes security very seriously. Before an application is accepted into the Play Store, it must undergo a very comprehensive virus scan.

Furthermore, whenever a user downloads an application, that user must manually grant the app permission to access the phone’s more sensitive features such as SMS messaging or accessing the phone’s camera or list of contacts.

How do you enable the Play Store on a Chromebook?

If your Chromebook has the Play Store application installed – because it came preinstalled or due to a subsequent update – you will still need to activate the Play Store application by entering into your Chromebook’s settings.

Within the settings, in the section titled “Google Play Store,” you will need to check the box labeled “Activate Google Play Store on your Chromebook”.

You will then need to manually accept the app’s activation; once you have done so, the application will automatically open.

After completing this short activation process, you will be able to install and use Android apps on your Chromebook.

How much does it cost?

Activating the Play Store on your Chromebook is entirely free of charge, just as it is on smartphones and tablets. The majority of the store’s applications can also be downloaded for free and only a minority of apps require any sort of payment immediately after their installation.

It goes without saying that the free to download programs usually incorporate some means of monetizing their content in order to remunerate their developers for their efforts.

Therefore, it is not uncommon to find advertisements within free applications. It is also common practice for some of these free applications to have limited functionality, a way of inciting users to pay to unlock the application’s full range of features.

What is it possible to do with a Chromebook thanks to the Play Store?

It is possible to perform the vast majority of tasks most Chromebook users are interested in without making use of the Play Store at all.

Nevertheless, thanks to the millions of Android applications that it is now possible to access via Chromebooks, there is a multitude of new possibilities to be explored.

Video gaming on Chromebooks is now much more interesting thanks to the newfound access of these computers to popular games such as Hearthstone, Clash of Clans and Minecraft.

The ability of Chromebooks to do photo and video editing has also been increased thanks to the Play Store. The Play Store has also expanded the capabilities of Chromebooks in such diverse fields a graphics design, communication, learning, and finance.

What consequences has the arrival of the Play Store for Chromebooks had?

The arrival of the Play Store for Chromebooks is far from being an inconsequential event. Already considered the most popular app store in the world when it was reserved for smartphones and tablets, the Play Store is now accessible to portable computers.

As a result, Chromebooks will be able to compete more aggressively with Windows PCs and MacBooks. Moreover, the quality to price ratio of Chromebooks – which was already very good before having access to Android applications – has become almost unbeatable.

Another major consequence is that Android applications will be able to reach portable computer users instead of just smartphone and tablet users. This represents a great opportunity for Android app developers to reach a whole new market.

Is it possible to have access to all of the same applications as on an Android smartphone?

No, the accessibility to an application varies from one device to another. When an Android app developer makes his/her application available on the Play Store, he/she is able to choose the types of devices that will be able to access it.

In this way, some developers choose to only make their applications accessible to smartphones and not to tablets or Chromebooks.

This choice is mainly based on the fact that a particular application – such as a phone or browser app – may have only been designed to operate correctly on a smartphone.

In fact, Chromebooks have neither a SIM card nor a GPS, making them incompatible with certain applications which depend on these indispensable elements for their proper functioning.

Will my smartphone’s account be synchronized with my Chromebook’s?

If you connect to your Chromebook with the same Google account that you use to log into your Android smartphone, your two devices will not be perfectly synchronized.

In fact, you probably have no intention of installing exactly the same apps on your Chromebook as on your smartphone.

Therefore, when you activate the Play Store on your Chromebook – by using the same Google account as on your Android smartphone – no applications will automatically install themselves. You will need to manually install each application that you would like to have on your Chromebook.

Helpful tip: if one day you change Chromebooks and you connect to your new computer with the same account that you used on your old one, the applications that you had on your old Chromebook will be automatically installed on your new computer.

And if I want to have several user accounts on my Chromebook, how does that work?

It is possible to have several user accounts for the same Chromebook – each one of which will have its own access to the Play Store and to its own applications.

To better understand how this works, you should realize that Chromebooks have a built-in multi-user mode.

On your Chromebook’s login screen, you can add a new user by clicking on “Add person” and by inputting that user’s Google account email address and password. Doing so will create a new user session on your Chromebook.

Whenever the new user logs into his/her account, his/her files and settings will not be the same as the other users’. Each user will only have access to his/her own files and will only be able to change his/her settings.

Similarly, each user will be able to activate/deactivate access to the Play Store within his/her account. And if the user chooses to activate the Play Store, the applications that he/she installs will only be visible within his/her own personal user session.

This multi-user system has been well conceived and allows several users to use the same Chromebook without creating problems for each other. This is also a great security measure which makes using a single Chromebook by an entire family a very practical solution.

What is better: a Chromebook with or without a touchscreen?

Aha! This is the question that drives new Chromebook buyers crazy! “Should I buy a Chromebook with or without a touchscreen?”

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. The choice depends entirely on what you intend to do with your Chromebook as well as on the importance you give to the advantages and disadvantages presented by each of the two options.

In an attempt to facilitate this choice, here are some of the pros and cons of each option.

Chromebook without a touchscreen

Pros

  • Less expensive
  • Better performance
  • Better durability

First of all, with all other characteristics being the same, a Chromebook which is not equipped with a touchscreen will be much less expensive than one that is. Touchscreen technology is very costly to implement on large 11 or 13-inch displays.

In general, you should expect to pay 30% more for your Chromebook if you choose a model equipped with a touchscreen. But, since Chromebooks have such a great quality to price ratio to begin with, adding 30% more to their initial price in order to have a touchscreen is not a big deal for some buyers.

However, for people looking to spend as little as possible to acquire a decent portable computer capable of doing anything that is asked of it, and who don’t really have a need for a touchscreen, buying a touchscreen-equipped Chromebook is not necessarily the best choice.

In addition to being less expensive – all other characteristics being the same – a Chromebook which is not equipped with a touchscreen will have slightly better performance. This is due to the fact that touchscreens require more processing power than conventional displays.

Although the difference is minimal and is likely to go unnoticed during normal use, for people really interested in optimizing their computer’s performance, it is a factor to consider.

Moreover, due to the higher cost of touchscreens, you may find yourself with a budget of 400€ having to make a choice between a 400€ computer with a touchscreen that is as powerful as a 300€ model without one, or a more powerful 400€ Chromebook without a touchscreen.

Lastly, there is the matter of durability. While, in general, all Chromebooks are shock-resistant – especially models with an aluminum case – a Chromebook without a touchscreen will be more durable than one with a touchscreen.

This is mainly due to the fact that touchscreen-equipped Chromebooks are also reversible. In order to achieve this reversibility, their hinges need to be different from those of conventional models since they need to be able to rotate over 360 degrees.

And, hinges that need to be able to turn over 360 degrees will necessarily be more fragile than conventional hinges, rendering the computer as a whole less resilient.

Of course, if you take good care of your computer, you will reduce the risk of dropping it and subjecting it to a strong impact. However, if you are looking for the most durable computer possible, you would be better off opting for a Chromebook without a touchscreen.

Chromebook with a touchscreen

Pros

  • More fun
  • Greater mobility
  • Greater functionality

Chromebooks equipped with a touchscreen are really fun to use.

Having the choice of using your fingertips to navigate instead of the keyboard and trackpad is very enjoyable. It is one of those things that you don’t think that you will enjoy doing until you have actually tried it.

Since I have a touchscreen-equipped Chromebook, I have come to know instinctively what kind of things I prefer doing with the touchscreen – mainly entertainment activities.

Thanks to the touchscreen, it is also possible to play a great number of games that (still) cannot be controlled by the keyboard or mouse. Clash of Clans, Hearthstone, Boom Beach, Minecraft, Dragon Mania and many other games are very enjoyable to play on a Chromebook’s large display rather than on a smartphone.

Chromebooks with reversible touchscreens are also more mobile. You can switch to presentation mode when watching videos on your couch or in bed or to tablet mode when reading a book – when traveling in public transportation for instance.

Oftentimes, Chromebooks with touchscreens are smaller than their non-tactile counterparts. As a result, they are generally limited in size to 10, 11 or 12 inches while Chromebooks not equipped with touchscreens can easily be 13 or 14 inches across. This makes touchscreen Chromebooks more lightweight and easier to transport in a backpack or any other kind of bag.

Lastly, touchscreens endow Chromebooks with more functionality – functionality which can be indispensable in some cases.

For example, graphic artists can use the touchscreen to draw and paint with a stylus. It is also possible to use the touchscreen to do audio remixing or to touch up photos and edit videos with greater ease.

Moreover, children much prefer using their fingers to navigate than using a mouse or keyboard. It is also much more enjoyable to use a touchscreen to read a book since it allows you to easily change pages or look up the definition of a word just by touching it.

In summary, a touchscreen-equipped and reversible Chromebook is not only more fun to use and more mobile than a non-tactile version, it is also more functional. For some people, these three advantages are reason enough to opt for a Chromebook equipped with a touchscreen.

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