I was thinking about getting a new Google Chromebook but after a bit of research I think I’ll wait until the platform grows up.
I just want a lightweight portable device with a keyboard so that I can work on my novels and write articles like this one. I also want to surf the web so that I can do a little research, check email, and so on. Simple, right?
After poking through Google’s very pretty, but information-light hype pages I went to check on what word processors were available. It turns out that there really aren’t any serious word processors available for Chrome - and Docs is too basic for me, at least at this point in time. Sure there are a handful of simple text editors and some of them have some nice features but none of them are full-blown word processors and they all seem to have at least a few serious flaws.
A lot of the text editors out there on the Chrome (and Play) Web store promote themselves as ‘distraction free’ and I quickly figured out that this is a euphemism for ‘not many features.’ And some of those missing features are doozies.
There’s one app that lets you write all you want but it doesn’t save files. WTF! What’s the point of writing if you can’t save your work? Practice? Some have spell checkers (a feature I can’t live without) but not all of
them and some don’t spell check on the fly. I don’t think any of them have grammar checking (but only an expert should pay attention to a grammar checker since they are wrong as often as they are correct).
Some can be used offline and some can’t. Some have word count and some don’t. Some don’t have cut and paste (again WTF!?!) Some you can’t change the screen/ font colors. Some you can’t change fonts/point size/spacing/etc. Some don’t support tabs or certain symbols. Most of them don’t save your preferences if
you log off. And I didn’t see any that said they support search and replace.
Then I started poking through the general productivity and business apps. Again, most of them are drastically stripped down versions of real business apps. The rest of them are utilities to help you do things like save your work, email things, transfer files, and fix what should have been included in the first place. Basically they are trying to fill in some of the gaping holes that are apparently so common in other apps that people had to write utilities and patches to do things that users of full-blown applications take for granted.
Now I agree with people who say that applications like MS Word have too many features for most people – features that are rarely used. And someday it might be nice if you could pick and choose what features you wanted and which ones you didn’t. But I’m not so sure I want to try and cobble together a word processor (or any other app for that matter) out of bits and pieces written by dozens of different individuals (sometimes in their spare time).
I certainly hope that Chrome and Android apps grow up someday, until then I guess I’ll have to stick with more traditional laptops.