Chromebook review / Chrome App Model

Today I received my Acer C720P Touch Chromebook. I've used it now for round about two hours. It is a stunning device, double check the price on Amazon it's about $280 (199€ in Germany) Amazon Deeplink!

Some technical details

  • Intel Celeron Prozessor 2955U
  • 2 Gigs of RAM
  • 16 Gigs SSD
  • 11.6" Screen @ 1366x768 pixles
  • TouchScreen
  • Multi-Gesture TouchPad
  • 7.5 hrs Battery Lifetime

First Impressions

As you can see in the picture below, the device looks pretty good and you may recognize the glossy display. The keyboard is good for programming but it's a bit small for my hands.
Chromebook 1

Chromebook 2

The touchpad supports some basic gestures but afer 10 minutes I've connected an external mouse. The system performance is okay - startup is superfast but I/O related stuff may take a few msecs/secs/mins (depending on how you define I/O related stuff) more than on a mac :)

Why did I bought a Chromebook

There was only one reason, the Chrome App Model. The Chrome App Model gives you a small set of powerful API's which you - as a dev - can use to build Apps for all platforms. And with "all" I mean all, not only desktop platforms. Because Chrome Apps are built using regular frontend technologies such as HTML, JavaScript (or DART) and CSS you can use tools like Cordova or Ionic to bring the same codebase also to mobile platforms.

Google is Offering Chrome Apps for Mobile (MCA) which is a superset on top of Apache Cordova, bringing all the chrome APIs to the mobile platform. MCA is available for free at

What does all platforms mean

When saying all platforms again and again, I have the following list in mind

  • OS X
  • Linux
  • ChromeOS*
  • Windows
  • iOS
  • Android

* By the way: Chrome Apps are the only development model for bringing new bits to ChromeOS!

Sure there are some other platforms like Windows Phone and Blackberry, but for those misfits is no support right now.

What are ChromeApps

Instead of executing within browser, Chrome Apps may run with a "native-like" experience and behave even more like native Apps. The common browser address-bar is also not visible within Chrome Apps which prevents users from navigating away or providing invalid urls or something like that.

Chrome Apps are sandboxed by default, in order to access any capabilities, Chrome Apps have to ask for them. As a user you can double check the requested permissions of an App before installing it from the Chrome Web Store. In addition to the sandboxing model, Apps can't download or execute any script, text, images or something else from remote locations if those are not named explicitly. And again you as a user have full transparency and control over all those things.

Chrome Apps should be designed offline-first. But what does that mean? Offline first means that your App should work without ANY kind of connectivity. If your app can function without a network connection, then your app will receive a special tag within the Web Store which is in these days like a kind of promotion.

Chrome App Source:

What's next

As already mentioned, I've spent only two ours with the Chromebook until now, but within that time I wrote an entire Chrome App that is already on it's way to the Chrome WebStore. As soon as the App becomes available I'll recap the entire process of writing such an app and how to bring it to the store.


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