Chrome OS gets a big overhaul for its 10th anniversary


To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Chrome OS, Google is announcing a redesign today and a new set of tools to make the platform much more useful. Of note, it adds a new clipboard that remembers the last five things you copied, a phone hub for easy access to your Android device, and support for nearby sharing.

Phone Hub is a small dashboard that lets you access your phone’s controls and see its status for things like battery life and data connectivity. Not only can you use your Chromebook to ring your Android device when you’ve misplaced it, you can also turn on one-click tethering and view recent Chrome tabs on your phone. You will be able to continue to send and receive SMS from the laptop (which you could already do before with the Messages app).

Two new features make life a little easier for those with Android and Chrome OS devices. First, WiFi syncing will allow you to automatically connect to trusted networks you’ve used on your phone or other Chromebooks without having to re-enter passwords. And in the months to come, Sharing nearby just turned on file sharing between your Chromebook and other Chrome OS or Android devices without an internet connection (via Bluetooth or local WiFi).

Google

Google is also improving the screenshot tool in Chrome OS, making it easier to access from the Quick Settings panel. Now you can describe exactly what you want to copy to your screen and create screen recording videos, all of which will be saved to your clipboard. Speaking of which, the clipboard can now store up to five items that you copied and you can access them from the new Tote feature. This is a storage area for all the files you and Google think you may need, in addition to the screenshots. You can pin files to Totes for easy access, which should be useful for things you send out frequently, like checklists or reference sheets.

As part of the redesign, Google is integrating media controls right into the Quick Settings panel for easier access and updating icons for built-in apps. Sharing files, images, and links between apps and your browser just got a little easier – now when you click Share on Supported Websites, you’ll see a list of apps you can send your content directly. When you want to translate, set, or convert something on your screen, right-click on it to bring up the quick responses in a panel so you don’t need to open another tab.

The company also updates the Offices function adding support for up to eight virtual workspaces and bringing a new Overview mode to make it easier to switch between them. Now when your laptop restarts, your windows in various desktops will be restored so you can quickly get back to your workflow.

Chrome OS 10th anniversary update images support up to eight desktops and a new preview mode

Google

Select-to-speak, Chrome OS’s screen reader, benefits from improved controls, including options to pause, speed up, and slow down reading. Google also makes it easy to switch to different sections of text.

Since many parents buy Chromebooks for their kids to make homework easier, Google is also making it easy to set up Family Link, which allows students to use school accounts on their own devices. This way, parental controls can still apply while children have access to their school’s apps.

With Chromebooks being the most popular laptop in schools, it’s good to see some useful updates coming to the platform. For those of us on Windows (or even those on macOS), some of these features will be more like Google bringing its desktop software closer to what we are familiar with. Chrome OS may still not be the productivity ecosystem for people who need powerful apps to work with, but with these updates it seems to be starting to catch up.

Gallery: Chrome OS 10th Anniversary Updates | 10 photos


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