The weekly Roundup of articles written by our mutual Chromebook enthusiasts friends on their respective blogs or over at the giants of industry. Definitely not all of what’s been written out there, but at least what I think is noteworthy.
It’s a little bit of a catch-up this time around since the whole thing with fighting off the lords of spam did put a bit of a dent into the otherwise flawless record of two straight weeks of weekly roundups. Fortunately not much happened.
Feel free to add any articles you miss in the comments. Thank you in advance, I really appreciate the time you take out of your busy day doing so.
Signs that the new Chromebooks will be a faster machines are definitely looking more positive. Over at CNET Stephen Shankland writes about Google making an important tell tale contribution to the Linux operating system. That contribution makes it possible for Linux to run on Cougar Point and Panther Point, Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge, respectively. Both are Intel processors which will do much better then the current Atom-based processors. Read More
Having the option to program online is not just essential in my ‘Making the switch to a Chromebook’ series of articles I’m writing simulating the Chromebook experience in a Chrome Browser. It’s equally essential to the entire premise that a Chromebook or cloud computing device has any validity in the foreseeable future, as the need for Google Docs is. It can’t do without.
As a blogger you mostly depend on your own skills to maintain your blog, maybe even to build it. At the very least you’ll want to tweak the code every now and again to keep your blog afloat. And if you’re anything like me you’ll do most of your writing and quick code editing away from your home office and trusted setup. In other words, if we’re gonna buy a Chromebook it’s going to be the machine doing most of the work, it should be able to handle that.
There are quite a lot of programming languages out there, so I will be specific in what I seek. I need to be able to work on my website’s CSS and create, edit and store PHP, C++ and maybe HTML5 files online. It would be nice if I could find some kind of sandbox or service that offers that option where you can trial run your code. Preferably in the same IDE (integrated development environment), and for free. Read More
A weekly Roundup of articles written by our mutual Chromebook enthusiast friends on their respective blogs or over at the giants of industry. Definitely not all of what’s been written out there this last week, but at least what we think is noteworthy.
Feel free to add any articles you miss in the comments. Thank you in advance for doing so. We really appreciate the time you take out of your busy day doing so.
Even though it is an a very early stages of development, this thing is going to make you curious. Chrome team has added a new experimental section on the new tab page where it shows “Most Visited Pages” and “Apps” now. >> ChromeStory.comRead More
A couple of years ago I could only find three online image editors that I deemed good enough to review for use on my Chromebook.
Today, one of three no longer exists and the other (Photoshop Express) was pulled off the market by Adobe. Obviously it’s time for a new review and my, my what a difference a couple of years makes.
Now there are dozens of online photo editing and layout web apps to choose from. If you weren’t convinced before that the world is moving away from installed apps toward everything cloud-based, this might change your mind.
The new apps have a wide range of capabilities – all the way from Photoshop-like completeness to toy apps for adding stickers to your selfies. A new class of online image editor has also come about. There are now several choices for designing blog covers and social images, complete with free stock photos.
Picking an Image Editor for Chrome
So, how did I go about researching and picking my favorites? Here are the questions that I wanted answered for my review.
Does the editor have a similar layout to Photoshop–the most popular and familiar editor of them all.
Can it retouch the millions of selfies that get posted every day including blemish removal, airbrush and rubber stamp?
Is it able to easily add text to images in order to make cover images and does it include banners or shapes? Bonus points if the editor includes ready-to-go stock images.
Can the app be used offline?
Does it handle RAW files? (I only found one that could, but there’s an online RAW file converter and viewer: https://raw.pics.io/.)
Online Image Editors for Chrome
If you’re looking for really basic cropping and resizing, keep it simple and use the native tool.
Photoshop Alternatives for Chrome
First let’s look at the real online Photoshop competitors. These powerful tools give photographers granular control of the photo editing process.
Sumo Paint, of all the options I found, looks and acts the most like Photoshop. It has the same toolbar. You can add text. You can have more than one image open at a time. Now, all the tools are manual, so you need to know what you’re doing. You won’t find pushbuttons to fix specific problems with your image. But if you’re used to Photoshop, then this will feel very comfortable.
Polarr runs offline in Chrome, which makes it perfect for taking with you on your Chromebook. Polarr has a more modern looking interface, but underneath are all the familiar controls for adjusting images. A tutorial greets you on launch. The Guide shows you what each of the controls do. One interesting feature is the history that lets you roll back any change, rather than just the last change. It’s built for the web, too. You can export directly to Facebook, Dropbox, or Google Drive. There are a decent number of filters for free, and there are more available for pay. One of the features I liked best was the before/after side-by-side view. I couldn’t find any text or other overlay tools for making designs. Polarr’s killer feature was that it was the only one that could open my ORF Olympus RAW file.
Several options, some new and some that have been around for years, combine photo editing capabilities with design elements. These tools are a compromise between granular control and automatic tools. They also have design and sharing elements built for social media image creation.
Fotor, like Polarr, has modern controls, but without the tutorial, it takes a bit longer to explore the options. Fotor runs online, and the free version is ad supported. Some good options are available free, without logging in, like filters and frames. Fotor is a hybrid tool that has both image editing and design options. It even has stickers. You can save your results locally or share directly to social. This product does a lot of things but is not specialized for any one purpose.
PicMonkeyis very similar to Fotor. It has photo effects, touch up, collage, and designs with text that you can share directly to social. Also like Fotor, some features are locked in the free version. The big differentiator for PicMonkey is the approachability of the controls. This is an all-purpose image editor and design tool for people who don’t have Photoshop experience.
iPiccy has been around since my last review of online photo editors. Back then, it didn’t give me the smooth and professional results I hoped for, and it had a child like feel to it. It’s basically the same now, but I didn’t throw it out because it has special effects that will appeal to people who work mostly on portraits. Along with its retouching tools, iPiccy has many visual effects like pencil sketch, and posterize (for reducing images to 2 or more colors for projects).
Pixlr web app takes the image editing capabilities of Photoshop and simplifies them. The big buttons makes it seem more approachable, and you don’t need as much knowledge to get started. It lets you do image retouching, design and collage. Pixlr has a good selection of basic adjustments, like crop, rotate, and straighten, plus image fixing and alteration options that are not obvious to the novice, like splash and heal. There are a few canned photo effects. You can add type to your image with 7 fonts. One weakness was the image size is limited to 8MB.
While searching for Photoshop alternatives for Chrome, I came across a new class of online image editing apps specifically for creating designs. The focus is less on image editing and more on adding effects to stock photos and then putting text on them. If you want to create blog covers or social images, design apps are easier to use than the image editors above.
Canva, as you can see from the screenshot, has many specialty designs (e.g. posters, business cards), not just social. Other than basics like cropping, Canva doesn’t do image editing. Canva offers a good choice of filters and fonts. It accepts both jpg and png images, or you can choose from their background photo options. It’s easy to find images by searching, and they are cheap, but they do cost $1. The downsides are that you have to create a login to get started, and it teases you with features that cost money. Canva is a good option for someone who needs to design a wide variety of formats and doesn’t have access to stock photography.
Snappa.io took a different approach with their freemium model. You don’t have to worry about the font you want costing money, but you only get 5 images a month. Like Canva, it requires login. The backgrounds are free though. Snappa has various sizes to get you started, and you can choose from social and blogging or ad templates. It has an excellent variety of fonts. Snappa’s other strong point is its video tutorials.
Conclusion to date
Not all tools that I evaluated made the list.The Photoshop alternatives are best at helping you edit photographs with tight control of every aspect of the process. The hybrid tools are better for those who don’t have Photoshop experience but need a combination of image editing and design creation. These tools are a compromise, and sometimes the more they try to do, the less well they do it. Finally, the design apps give you less control over the photo editing but add highly specialized features that are perfect for the amateur designer (or blog writer on a budget).
The Top 3 Image Editors
Last time, it was easy to pick only three because there were only a few options. Now there are a number of great choices that will work for most people.
Sumo Paint still does the closest rendition of the Photoshop layout. But, if you need to edit RAW files, you’ll have to go with Polarr. It’s also the best choice if you work offline a lot.
For portrait retouching, give PicMonkey a try first, and if you don’t like that, iPiccy might work better for you.
If you mainly need to make covers or social images, don’t mess with the hybrid apps. Instead go straight to either Canva or Snappa which are both great design apps. I couldn’t choose because it really depends on your situation. Personally I would go with Snappa because I only need to make a few images a month, and I can do that for free. If I had to do more, I would go with Canva because of the built-in stock photo purchasing.
What is your favorite online photo editor and why? Please share with us below.
In my attempt to simulate a Chromebook experience by doing everything in the Chrome browser I’ve learned a lot already. I’ve found amazing ways to enjoy music anywhere and everywhere and learned about great, high quality documentaries that moved me to my core. It’s a great ride so far, adding to the promise of a Chromebook.
This time we’re going a more practical route and talk about the basic productivity tools I’ve come to use over the past few weeks. There are a lot of tools and productivity sites out there, but only few of ‘m apply to us all on a daily basis. However, with tips and tools from lifehacker book, David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology and some good use of the Web we can gain some serious ground in personal efficiency and location independent working.
I myself work with, what I jokingly call my holy quartet: Google Docs, Dropbox, Evernote and Gmail. Because these are all web-based services I have these four always close at hand. Google Docs to create and edit documents, Dropbox for safely storing all of my files online, Evernote for making quick notes and Gmail, you guessed it, for email. Read More
Since I started writing the Making the switch to a Chromebook series, only two articles ago, I rolled from one amazing moment into the next. It’s really great to get introduced to this whole world of wonders the internet turns out to be. And yes, that did grow completely separate from the Chromebook and is also there for the avid IE user, for example. But, it does come to it’s complete fruition, it seems, when using a cloud computing device.
In this post I want to share with you what I’ve learned so far. What I’ll be talking about is just a selection of what I ran into, and liked, when testing out the wole watching stuff online thing. I do want to encourage you to go onto the Google and do some searching yourself though, there’s really a lot out there.
Just as in choosing a suitable replacement for my local music player with a cloud version, I drew up a simple wishlist. This time in advance. However, I did chuck that list eventually for the simple reason that my questions brought to light that I was hopelessly outdated and that they didn’t really apply. Read More
In the first post on making the switch to a Chromebook I spoke of my desire to first find out if it’ll all works. It’s not nothing to go from doing everything local on your pc or laptop using our trusted applications to doing everything online using nothing but apps. Is there an app for everything? And does that mean added costs, or are those free? Time to find out.
Today I want to take a look at what the deal is with music, music in the cloud to be exact. If you’re anything like me you’ll probably have an extensive music collection containing hundreds of albums and thousands of songs which you don’t want to give up on. Many of these I bought years ago on CD and imported them later into iTunes. I really don’t want to lose them, and there’s no way I’m gonna pay for ‘m again moving into the cloud.
The search for an online equivalent to my own music collection was worth it however. Not only is it possible to find virtually any song or artist you’ll ever want to listen to, there are good services letting you listen to them for free! Read More
It sounds really good, the promise of all the things a Chromebook will enable us to do. Checking everything from e-mail and all the social networks to the news and our favorite blogs, when away from home and the office. Can’t say I’m against that. But the real question here for me is if that promise will turn out to be just as good when I purchase my own Chromebook.
Google’s philosophy has always been to have everything you do on your pc available on the web as an app – everything in the cloud. The Chromebook is an extension or product of that philosophy. They could just as well have called it their Webtop. Silly, I know, but it does describe what this device really is: the Internet. And that brings the story to me. Read More
When you’re looking for a new, cutting-edge laptop that installs ever quicker OS updates and doesn’t require you to spend money on anti-virus software, the Samsung Series 5 3G 12.1-Inch Chromebook may be just what you’re looking for.
The innovative design makes this laptop different than any others on the market, as it uses a Google operating system only. This keeps the computer streamlined, giving users exactly what they need and nothing more to slow down the system. With a lightweight design, exceptionally long battery life and automatic updates, you’ll find this Samsung Chromebook to be a the perfect addition to your online world.
So what does the Samsung Series 5 3G Chromebook get you tech wise?
You may have realized by now that you can’t download games onto a Chromebook the way you can on a Windows computer. Why is that? I’ll explain it all, and I’ll show you how to find games for your Chromebook.
What types of games work on Chromebooks?
There are four types of games that work on Chromebooks –
Flash – Google provides a version of Adobe Flash; and
Games that are in the Android Play Store.
Those last ones only work if your Chromebook currently supports the Play Store. Check this list to see if your Chromebook is included. If it says “Stable Channel” next to your model number, then you’re good to go. Otherwise, you’ll have to stick to HTML5 and Flash games for now.
Games that require Java, like Minecraft, will not work in ChromeOS.
How to tell if a game will work on your Chromebook
If you go to a game site, and you can click “Play” and start playing, that should work. If you get to the site and the only option is “Download,” then it won’t work on ChromeOS.
The surest way to find out if a game will work on ChromeOS is to search the name of your game plus system requirements. If you see Windows operating systems listed but not ChromeOS, that’s the definitive answer.
Example of searching for system requirements
Workaround for games that run on Linux
When you look at their system requirements, you’ll see that some games will work on Linux.
Chromebooks have the ChromeOS operating system when you get them. For the technically savvy, it’s possible to install Linux on a Chromebook if it has an Intel processor.
Type chrome://system into your address bar on your Chromebook (needs to be verified) to see what CPU is in there. If you’re feeling up to it, you can install Crouton and use that to switch between ChromeOS and Ubuntu Linux.
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