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Chromebooks beyond the cloud: Everything Chromebooks can do offline

Brad Chacos | July 18, 2014
The offline abilities of Chrome OS have skyrocketed since the first Googley laptops hit the streets, and now Chromebooks can tackle many of the most popular PC uses completely offline.

Open the offline floodgates
The offline capabilities in Google's own apps and services are just the beginning of the web-less revolution for Chromebooks, thanks to the Chrome Packaged Apps Google introduced a year ago. Now simply dubbed "Chrome Apps," these apps are infused with proprietary Chrome APIs, which grants them access to your laptop's hardware and essentially transforms them into traditional desktop software, complete with discrete out-of-browser windows, full offline capabilities, and the ability to utilize local storage and resources.

Sure, it somewhat contradicts the Chrome OS philosophy of a cloud-only-powered world, but there's no doubting that Chrome Apps supercharge the offline capabilities of Chromebooks. Chrome Apps help Chromebooks become the Windows XP replacements Google so dearly wants them to become.

The Chrome Web Store's "For Your Desktop" section houses the available Chrome Apps, augmented by an even larger offline-enabled section. We've compiled a list of the best offline apps available here. Of particular note, the offline Pixlr Touch Up app provides beefier photo-editing tools than the native tool baked into Chromebooks, and the Pocket read-it-later app is a stellar resource for folks who loathe saving whole web pages for offline viewing. There are offline games galore, as well, including--of course--Angry Birds.

So there you have it: Chromebooks are stuffed with all sorts of offline functionality, provided you know where to look--and now you do! And while Googley laptops will never be able to run the breadth of traditional software available for Windows, what I've shared above is just the tip of the disconnected iceberg. Google recently mandated that all legacy Chrome apps must become offline-enabled Chrome Apps by December 2015 to continue being featured in the Chrome Web Store.


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