Teach an old computer a new trick — or two
Updates aren't as big an issue for computers as they are for Android phones, but sometimes even an old laptop stops getting the bits it needs to work well, leaving older (but arguably still good) models behind. Enter: ChromeOS Flex. It's a great way to teach an old computer new tricks, and today, it leaves beta.
Capture your screen in a flash
Taking a screenshot is a feature on nearly every device with a screen, but the method varies massively across them—even on similar products like phones or laptops. Most devices offer a dedicated screen capture tool, so you don't have to install third-party apps to take a screenshot. That said, if you find the screenshot functionality lacking, it may be worth installing a separate screenshot app or extension.
Turn any old computer into a sleek fast Chromebook
Google recently introduced ChromeOS Flex, a new version of ChromeOS that you can easily install and run on almost any computer – even one relegated to the back of your closet. The company presented Flex as an environmentally friendly way to recycle devices that are too old to properly run Windows or macOS.
Easy diacritic insertion can now be enabled with a flag in the Canary channel
There's a lot to celebrate with the release of ChromeOS 103, including support for features like Nearby Share and an updated Phone Hub with the ability to view recent pictures from your collection. But there's always something to look forward to down the road and we're taking a look at one such attraction which will allow users to type out diacritics straight from their default keyboard rather than relying on ALT codes, character maps, or other sources to input these special characters. In fact, Canary channel users are able to try this shortcut out right now.
New battery-saving optimizations in Chrome OS 105 are bound to rein in websites sucking your battery in the background
A lot of the best Chromebooks out there are a more resource efficient than many other computers equipped with Intel chips, and that’s despite classic battery hog Chrome being the only feasible way to browse the web on them. But there are always improvements to be made, and the latest one is slated to come to your Chromebook with Chrome OS 105. It’s meant to optimize how websites can use your CPU in the background.
Google Chrome has no homepage by default, but you can fix that
When people talk about homepages, they usually mean two things: the website that appears when they first open their browser and the page they visit when clicking their home button. In many modern browsers, including the default browser for all Chromebooks, Google Chrome, these are two separate things.
Google aims to build an ecosystem worth rivaling Apple
Google is working to strengthen its ever-growing ecosystem of products. Between Android, ChromeOS, and all of your various accessories, making sure everything feels like a connected platform is essential, especially as some of the best Chromebooks around get even better. Starting with ChromeOS 103, Google is bringing all sorts of features first teased throughout the last six months, including Nearby Share support, recent photos in Phone Hub, and more.
Webcams suck, smartphone cameras don't
Apple showed off a bunch of characteristically flashy new hardware and software including a new desktop chipset, new MacBooks, and a new version of iOS at WWDC earlier this month. One new feature in particular caught my eye: soon, Mac users will be able to use iPhones as wireless webcams almost no fiddling required. It's exactly the kind of thing I'd expect from Apple because the company loves hardware integration. It's also something I think Google should adapt for Chrome OS.
Don't rush over to the Canary channel for the Privacy Hub, though
We can all appreciate a little bit of privacy here and there. Bought a laptop within the last few years? You might have a little cover that you can slide over your camera. Take a look at that smart speaker and you'll see a mute switch you can flip to turn off its always-listening microphones. And ChromeOS devices may soon have a dedicated settings page for anything concerning your privacy.
Google is bringing its new Material You design language to its desktop product
Material You is Google’s new design language, based around custom color schemes pulled from your wallpaper for all of your apps. It was introduced to much fanfare in Android 12, but it looks like it will soon make its way to more Google products. Chrome OS appears to be gearing up to bring full Material You theming to all the best Chromebooks and Chromboxes.
We're partial to more than one style of split-screen
The importance of managing windows on Chrome OS (soon to be ChromeOS) is growing. Splitting the screen in half for two windows may be useful for most people, but there's more than one way to cut a cake or slice a screen and a new commit in the Chromium Gerrit may be a sign that Google is recognizing this.
Evidence suggests that Chrome OS is preparing Photos integration for Gallery
Chrome OS’ Gallery app has long been rather rudimentary, but that’s changing fast. Since the inception of Chrome OS as a web-first operating system, Google has invested a lot of resources in making the OS feel more robust, and enhancements to the Gallery app in the form of rudimentary editing tools were just one part of that effort. The latest new feature that might soon come to Gallery is the option to edit photos and videos right inside Google Photos, without having to head to the website first.
Featuring new artwork from five LGBTQ+ creators
It's officially Pride Month, and if you're looking to decorate your gadgets with various wallpapers, Google has you covered. We've already seen the company roll out some backgrounds on ChromeOS, perfect for decking out your workspace through June and beyond. If that's not enough for you, Google has returned with new themes for both the Chrome browser and Chromebooks, all made by LGBTQ+ artists and reflecting their own lives and experiences.
They'll tell you if the cable you're using won't support displays
Late last year, Google launched Cursive, a note-taking progressive web app for Chrome OS that captured handwritten notes and worked offline. While many Chromebook enthusiasts have been using it already (you can manually install Cursive easily), Google has announced that formal support is rolling out to all stylus-compatible Chromebooks. The company is also highlighting other changes from the recent Chrome OS updates, including a resizable screen magnifier with improved panning and alerts if you try to use a USB Type-C cable that won't work with an external display.
Kind of like AirDrop, but Google
Nearby Share allows Android users to send photos, files, links, contacts, and more via Wi-Fi or mobile data to other Android devices. Once enabled, you can share files with just a few taps. It's an effective way to quickly send data between devices, and we recommend it for people heavily invested in the Android and Chrome OS ecosystems. Here's a quick primer on how to set up the feature.
Slowly but surely, Chrome is getting features other platforms have had for ages
It can be hard to find things in the Chrome OS settings, which is odd given how sparse it is compared to more established operating systems. Should you need to tinker with the audio settings on your Chromebook today, you might be disappointed to find there's no dedicated settings page. In the near future, those settings could get their own space, according to a change in the Chromium open source project, reported by Chrome Story.
You can't agree to any terms of service if they won't load
Some proud new Chromebook owners haven't been feeling too proud about their purchases as they haven't been able to properly use them after encountering an out-of-box experience from purgatory. Specifically, there's one step in the setup process where users need to agree to the Google Play Store's terms of service in order to use Android apps — except that they couldn't, because the terms won't load.
The new left-aligned launcher is here, along with a black ‘chromeOS’ boot screen
With Chrome and Chrome OS’s new super-fast four-week release schedule, it can get hard keeping track of all the updates that are rolling out to Google’s products. Following hot on the heels of the first three-digit milestone, Chrome OS 101 is now rolling out to the stable channel. If you would think that this minor-sounding release only entails a few minor changes, you might be in for a pleasant surprise, though. With Chrome OS 101, you’re in for a new dark boot screen and the new, long-awaited left-aligned launcher.
Put down your pen and pick up your stylus
Google Cursive is an app for taking handwritten notes with your Chromebook. It launched with the HP Chromebook x2 11 and comes pre-installed on new touchscreen Chromebooks. It serves as an excellent alternative to OneNote for those looking for simple features and minimalist design. Here’s how you can access Cursive and use it to create, edit, and organize your notes.
Freeform windows may no longer be the bane of your Android app UX
Over the years, Google has taken baby steps to adapt Android towards bigger screens. With Android 10 came the advent of a generic desktop mode while Android 12L contained a full suite of optimizations for tablets and foldable devices. But with Chromebook owners seem keen on seeking utility from Android apps, no matter how broken they can be with malformed UIs in freeform windows, this just-announced addition to Android Studio sounds well overdue.