Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Awesome Android Apps for Chromebooks

A while back I shared a blog post on how to install, manage, and run Android apps on Chromebooks. That post focused on the administrative and management end of the process, and can be seen here: Using Android Apps on Chromebooks

In this post we are going to build on top of that. Now that we know how to install and manage Android apps on Chromebooks, the next question becomes, "What are the best Android apps to run on your Chromebook?"

Certainly there is no definitive list that everyone would agree on. However, there are a lot of excellent Android apps that would provide benefit to students on Chromebooks in a school setting. To make this list I considered the following:

  • Android apps that are free
  • Android apps that provide something educational or support learning, communication, creativity, and such
  • Android apps that provide something more than their web-based versions (why install the Android version if the web version is already available in Chrome, works fine, and maybe even does more than the mobile version?)

With those points in mind, see below for a list of some of the best Android apps today that students can use for learning on their Chromebooks.

General Apps

Google Classroom
Google Play Store link

Although there is a perfectly good web-based version of Google Classroom, the mobile version does include some powerful additional features not found in the web version including:

  • Ability to digitally handwrite on top of PDF's and Google Docs
  • Ability to take pictures and record videos to insert into assignments, posts, and more

You can see examples of these features, plus many more, in my earlier blog post and training video here: Amazing Mobile Features of Google Classroom

Toontastic 3D
Google Play Store link

Toontastic is a fun 3D storytelling app for students. With the Toontastic app you can:

  • Create 3D animated stories, reports, and more.
  • Choose from lots of pre-made characters.
  • Draw and insert your own characters.
  • Choose from several themed environments.
  • Add your own narration.
  • Save and export your final creation.

Google Play Books
Google Play Store link

The Android version of Google Play Books lets you access and read all of your saved books, just like the web-based version, but adds another valuable feature.

The Android version is able to read your books aloud to you through its text-to-speech feature. Note: Some books have this option disabled by their publisher, but otherwise it will work.

Tinycards by Duolingo
Google Play Store link

This app is from the makers of Duolingo, the popular language learning website. This Android app provides over 200,000 flashcards with images, speech, text, and more, to teach you a new language, country capitals, history, anatomy, constellations, and more. You can even make your own flashcards.

Lensoo Create
Google Play Store link

Lensoo turns your Chromebook into a virtual whiteboard which you can record to make a video while handwriting, adding images, narrating, and more.

This can be a great way to create instructional videos to explain a concept to others. The final video can be uploaded to Lensoo's website where it can be shared with and viewed by others.

Art and Creativity Apps

SketchBook (by Autodesk)
Google Play Store link

This drawing app provide you with a wide range of drawing tools and brushes, which can each be customized as needed by the user. In addition to drawing by hand, you can add text, images, shapes, layers, and more, as well as export your final creation. There is a paid upgrade with more tool, but the free version is still a powerful and useful program.

ArtRage Oil Painter Free
Google Play Store link

ArtRage is another drawing program, but focuses specifically on oil painting. In the free version you get four different brushes to paint with, each with its own style. The program blends colors together naturally so it looks like you are painting with real oil paints. Final products can be exported for sharing with others.

Adobe Photoshop Sketch
Google Play Store link

Sketch is yet another great drawing app. It comes with 11 different drawing tools, which can be further customized as needed. Additionally you can add more layers, and can export your final drawing to share with others or even send to other Adobe programs for further editing.

Tayasui Sketches
Google Play Store link

This is another useful drawing program. It comes with a good collection of brushes and tools. The free version is quite basic, with less features than the free version of other drawing apps, but still works well and could be the right match for younger students needing a basic drawing tool.

Note Taking Apps

Google Keep
Google Play Store link

Keep is Google's note-taking tool. It allows you to take handwritten notes, typed notes, make lists, add images, save links, and more. It also integrates with other tools to allow you to access your notes in Docs, Slides, and more.

The Android version adds at least two extra features that you do not get in the web version:

  • You can record your voice to add voice notes (stand-alone or added onto an existing note) as well as get speech-to-text transcription of what you said.
  • You can use the camera on your device to take live pictures to add to notes.

Note: The voice feature in Keep requires that you also have installed the Google search app for it to function.

Google Play Store link

Squid lets you take handwritten notes easily and naturally on your device. The free version includes basic tools for writing, erasing, and importing images.

You can also export your handwritten notes in multiple formats when done.

Math and Science Apps

Science Journal
Google Play Store link

Science Journal lets you use the sensors built into your device to collect scientific data, such as light, sound levels, acceleration, and more.

Students can also take notes on the data collected and can export the data for more analysis in Google Sheets.

Physics Toolbox Sensor Suite
Google Play Store link

This app is another science tool that lets you use and record data from the sensors in your device, such as light , sound, motion, and more. Any data collected can be exported as a CSV file for further analysis.

In addition to collecting data, the app can also generate data such as a noise, color, or strobe light generator.

MyScript Calculator
Google Play Store link

This math app allows you to write out any math problem in natural handwriting, which the app will then recognize and convert into letters, numbers, and symbols.

The app can then perform the calculation for you to give you the answer. You can even put in variables to be solved.

Photo and Video Apps

Google Play Store link

Snapseed is a photo editing tool with 29 tools and filters, including: Tune image, Details, Crop, Rotate, Perspective, White Balance, Brush, Selective, Healing, Vignette, Text,  Curves, Expand, Lens Blur, Glamour Glow, Tonal Contrast, HDR Scape, Drama, Grunge, Grainy Film, Vintage, Retrolux, Noir, Black & White, Frames, Double Exposure, Face Enhance , and Face Pose .

Motion Stills
Google Play Store link

Motion Stills lets you capture short videos using your camera. The video can then be exported as a looping animated GIF.

Or you can record longer videos and then condense them down into a time-lapse video, which also can be exported as a GIF.

Video Tutorial
(1 hour recorded webinar)

Webinar Resources:
  • Slideshow - "Using Android Apps on Chromebooks" - Google Slides link
  • Slideshow - "Awesome Android Apps for Chromebooks" - Google Slides link
  • Session Chat: Questions and comments from the session - Google Document Link
  • Session Evaluation: Please provide your feedback on this session - Google Form link
  • Get Certificate: Earn a certificate of attendance for one (1) contact hour by watching the training video and passing this quiz - Google Form link


As time goes on we will certainly see more and more Android apps that benefit teaching and learning in schools by taking advantage of special features such touch input, cameras, sensors, and more. The Android apps listed in this blog post are just a small sample of the potential tools available for modern Chromebooks.

If you have found other Android apps that are great for the classroom, please share your suggestions in the comment below.

1 comment:

  1. That's a great collection.Thanks for sharing it.What is the difference between EverNote and GoogleKeep?
    It pretty much serves the same function.