7 apps we couldn’t live without in 2021

As 2021 draws to a close, our Chromebook Apps team is taking the time to reflect on all the ways Chromebooks have helped us tackle another year of doing just about everything from home. This year, we’re starting a new tradition: sharing a few of the many apps we couldn’t live without, from our team to you.

Designing holiday cards

Pixlr. ‘Tis the season to create memories that bring smiles to friends and family. But capturing a photo of my family of five, including toddlers, is no small feat. Pixlr lets you edit photos and create great designs right in your browser. I combined a few photos into one to give the appearance of a calm and serene group, while giving the background a perfect blur. – Maria Lundahl Schmidt, Chrome OS Apps Partnerships

A card that reads “Happy Holidays” with four photos of children playing outside

Maria’s family holiday card created with Pixlr

Staying entertained with Cloud gaming

Stadia. Gaming played a crucial role in keeping me entertained (and sane!) in 2021. This year I have been all about cloud-gaming and Celeste is the first game that sold me. Latency was my main hesitation with cloud gaming, so I put it to the test with a pixel-perfect platformer. I had played Celeste locally, so I knew that any delay in responsiveness would render one of my favorite indie games unplayable. To my delight, I didn’t notice any lag when playing on Stadia. –Sam Richard, Chrome OS Developer Advocate

Nvidia GeForce NOW. And for those looking for a new game that can show off the graphical capabilities of cloud-gaming, be sure to check out Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy on NVIDIA GeForce NOW. RTX support means it can be played with beautifully ray traced graphics (available on Chromebooks that support 4K), turning your Chromebook into the ultimate high-fidelity gaming rig! – Greg Nemeth, Chrome OS Games Partnerships

Painting with my kids during shelter in place

Krita. Sheltering in place in a cabin outside of Sweden has given my family some extra time to embrace our creative side. Krita – which is in beta – has been an amazing tool for us, and we have been able to create a plethora of princesses, unicorns and cat-like creatures. Krita is designed primarily for digital painting and 2D animation; it is open source and completely free of charge. The name "Krita" is inspired by the Swedish words krita, meaning "crayon," and rita, which means "to draw," so it made perfect sense for us to use this wonderful tool for digital artists. – Maria Lundahl Schmidt, Chrome OS Apps Partnerships

Connecting virtually with family and friends

Rave. When my kids are asleep, I use Rave, a watch party app, with my friends to text and voice message while binging Netflix and watching YouTube videos together. We even hosted a few karaoke nights with our friends who live outside of California. It became the weekend highlight for us. – Sanj Nathwani, Chrome OS Product Manager

Zoom. Making sure my 2 and 4-year-olds and I can spend virtual time with our loved ones has been important for my family. Zoom’s new progressive web app (PWA) for Chromebooks makes it incredibly easy to join any call with a single click. It works in Chrome browser on any operating system — so I never need to worry about whether my friends or family will be able to access a group meeting. – James Wagner, Chrome OS Apps Program Manager

Unleashing my creative side

Sumo. One of my resolutions this year was to get into painting again. When I started using the web-based app Sumopaint, it was impossible to miss the other tools they have — like making music, 3D modeling, coding or editing photos and videos. My favorite part: how easy everything was to learn, and how you can share assets between apps in the suite through a common asset library. – Neel Kshetramade, Chrome OS Apps Program Manager

A colorful painting of Inara, her parents and her little brother

Painting by Neel’s daughter, created using Sumopaint

Hopefully you’ll have some down-time over the holidays. Some of the ways my team plans to spend that time is watching their favorite holiday movies — like Home Alone or The Nightmare Before Christmas on Disney+, or learning to code as a family with Piper Make, or making music with Cubasis 3’s custom Chromebooks app.

We hope you and your family enjoy these apps as much as we do. Give them a spin during the holidays. Be sure to check out the Perks page to find special offers on some great apps — created exclusively for Chromebooks.