The biggest features missing from Chrome OS

New functionality that's not in beta

Chrome OS it's great for web browsing, streaming media, and everyday computing, but going outside of these typical tasks gives Chromebooks a bit of trouble.

Take image editing, for instance. There are a few useful tools already on the app store, including Photoshop Express and Pixlr image editing software for artists who need to work in layers. Adobe's Project Photoshop Streaming is another step towards expanding the capabilities of Chromebooks by adding RAW image editing on the cloud, but it's currently limited to beta.

Chrome OS

At last, RAW image editing on Chromebooks

While most Chromebooks are outfitted with Intel processors capable of working with these uncompressed image files, Adobe's software isn't made to run on Chrome OS. By streaming the application, I was able to edit the image as if I were working on my Mac or Windows machine, toggling settings and seeing the live changes.

It's amazing considering that all the heavy duty image processing is being piped over to an Adobe server miles and miles away. However, the Photoshop Streaming projects currently only exists as an incredibly closed beta. First users have to be enrolled in a Creative Cloud subscription and be a qualified Creative Cloud education member before they can even get to applying for the selective beta.

It's great that Google is experimenting adding a small sprinkling of Android apps and supports the Photoshop Streaming beta, but Chrome OS is going to need more full-fledged features to make itself stand out. Especially after both Apple and Microsoft adding collaborative cloud-based features to their respective iWork and Microsoft Office 365 productivity suites to steal back some Google Drive users.

More video codecs please

Native video playback is one of the niceties that Google baked into Chrome OS's built-in file browser and it works beautifully for AVI and MP4 files. However, throw a MKV video Chrome OS' way and Chrome simply won't play any audio. Furthermore the operating system won't recognize files encoded in WMV at all.

You could download PLEX and transfer your files to a media server, but streaming media isn't feasible option for users stuck on a flights spanning more than ten hours. There are few devices that last as long as a Chromebook, and some more robust video support would go a long way to making extended travel bearable.

Steaming gaming is all the rage these days, why not browser gaming? (source: Maxmium PC)

Browser gaming that should already be here

Bastion and From Dust stand out as two shining beacons of of browser gaming. Unfortunately they're also the only two games that are actually available in the app store.

Browser gaming seemed like a great promise in March 2013 as Firefox added support for both the Unity 5 engine and Unreal Engine 4. Since then, any sort of developments in the browser gaming front have simply disappeared, contrary to the ever increasing popularity to streaming gaming with services like PlayStation Now, Steam's built-in streaming technology, Windows 10's Xbox One streaming and Nvidia Grid.

With streaming games becoming a bigger part of the console and PC world, Google should be capitalizing on this chance to make Chrome OS it's own gaming platform.

Chrome OS

Coming back to earth

There are plenty of advantages to using Chrome OS-powered device. They're often more affordable, lightweight and hardly ever get hot compared to a system running Windows or OS X. The simplicity also makes the OS a great choice for anyone who just needs to get by with a basic computing suite or businesses that need to equipping employees with a full suite of productivity software for next to nothing.

Still the operating system could use a bit more polish and functionality. In a week of living with the cloud-based OS, I found myself repeatedly running back to my Mac and PC to play games, watch media, accessing a FTP and a host of other tasks that you simply can't do on Chrome OS. If Google can patch these holes in it's operating system, cloud computing could truly take off.

Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee was a former computing reporter at TechRadar. Kevin is now the SEO Updates Editor at IGN based in New York. He handles all of the best of tech buying guides while also dipping his hand in the entertainment and games evergreen content. Kevin has over eight years of experience in the tech and games publications with previous bylines at Polygon, PC World, and more. Outside of work, Kevin is major movie buff of cult and bad films. He also regularly plays flight & space sim and racing games. IRL he's a fan of archery, axe throwing, and board games.