Google is bringing some fascinating new features to its Chrome OS
For the ten-year anniversary, Google Chromebook owners around the world are offering a number of improvements. If you have an Android smartphone in addition to your Chromebook, this new version has some extremely useful new features that will be available in the coming days.
Chromebooks have come a pretty long way in the past decade. According to internal data from Google, users no longer used a secondary device alongside a computer running Windows 10, macOS or Linux, but only used a Chromebook as the main computer. This is evidence of how far the underlying Chrome OS operating system has come in this time. Schools have also viewed Chromebooks as a way to get lightweight, portable, and fast computers into the hands of hundreds of students without breaking the bank.
Chrome OS was designed to be a fast and secure operating system that automatically keeps itself up to date and backs up everything online. So you don’t have to worry about clicking “Save” in your word processor every fifteen minutes or so. Google Docs constantly stores everything in the cloud, where it can be instantly accessed on another device.
Commenting on the anniversary, John Maletis, Head of Product Engineering & UX at Google, said: “For the past ten years we have stayed true to our original vision of making computing easier and more accessible for everyone. Highlights include the Chromebook Pixel, the first Chromebook with a big, beautiful 3: 2 touchscreen, launched in 2013 that changed the way people used their laptops. Then there was the first Chromebook with USB-C technology, launched in 2015 that enabled people to quickly transfer their data and quickly charge their device – all using what is now the universal standard. And in 2017, we introduced Chromebooks with the Titan C security chip developed by Google to keep devices safe and protect user identity. “
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Google has announced a number of new features for Chromebook owners that will be part of the 10th anniversary update. Here are three of the biggest additions –
Bring your Android phone to Chrome OS
You might have a smartphone on the desk next to your Chromebook or in your pocket when you work. With the latest update, Google wants to save you the hassle of constantly reaching for that other device by sharing more functions and data between these two devices. Microsoft has already used something similar on Windows 10, and Apple allows iPhone owners to copy and paste between devices, as well as resuming words and emails they made while switching between screens with one click.
On Chrome OS, this functionality is under the Phone Hub banner. This integrated control center is designed to bring important functions from your Android phone to your Chromebook. Located in the lower right corner of the screen, it allows you to read text messages, reply to them, and even check the current battery life of your phone without moving away from your Chromebook.
With Phone Hub, you can mute your Android phone or open a Chrome tab from the handset
Better still, if you’ve misplaced your phone, you can even call it with a shortcut from the new Phone Hub menu to make it easier to track down.
Phone Hub also shows the Chrome browser tabs that you last opened on your Android phone, so you can pick up right where you left off on the bigger laptop screen. If you work in a coffee shop or new office, the moment you sign in to a new Wi-Fi network on your Chromebook, the same credentials will be wirelessly transferred to your Android phone so you can step too with one click at.
In the coming months, Google will also be rolling out the nearby release for Chromebooks. As with Apple’s AirDrop system, it allows users to instantly and securely share files between their Chromebook and other Chrome OS or Android devices. With Share Nearby, you can send and receive without sharing contact information, so your information and files remain private.
With Nearby Share, you can wirelessly transfer photos, videos, files, and more from your Chromebook to a smartphone and back
Google created an entirely new screen capture tool in the Chrome OS Quick Settings menu that allows users to take precise screenshots and screen recordings without having to remember keyboard shortcuts. Once you’ve taken a screen capture, it will instantly show up in Tote. Don’t worry if the doorbell doesn’t ring – Tote is a whole new area where important files are always at hand. Open the carrying case from the shelf at the bottom of the screen and view the latest downloads, current screenshots and pinned files. If necessary, these can be moved using drag & drop.
Therefore, screenshots appear next to images copied from a document and files transferred using Nearby Share. It’s essentially a clipboard, but for files.
Jump back into your work
With the latest update, Google has “charged” the “Desks” feature. For those who didn’t know, desks are virtual desktops that allow you to create a whole new collection of windows – as if you had just signed in to a new account. Users can switch between desks by swiping the trackpad.
After the update, all windows are reset to their previous desks so that workflows are never interrupted by shutting down the computer. Right-click at the top of a window to send directly to any or all of the desks and swipe four fingers on the trackpad to switch between desks as before. To get started with Desks, open Overview Mode and create a new Desk in the top right corner.
Chromebook owners will get a new Tote shortcut that will hold all of the recently copied files
These are some of the biggest novelties, but they’re a far cry from the only new arrivals. For example, Google has reworked all of the icons for Chromebook’s built-in apps to make them easier to find in the app drawer. The share menu has also been expanded. After the update, fewer steps are required to share files, pictures, and links between apps and the web. So when you click Share on a supported app or website, you’ll see a list of apps that let you share content directly.
Share an image from your built-in canvas app with Twitter or an image from your Files app with the Microsoft Word app with just a few clicks.