Google is calling today the Chromebook’s 10th birthday, and the latest version of Chrome OS, version 89, is celebrating by rolling out a ton of features to the stable branch.
First up is Phone Hub, which will let users pair up an Android phone and remotely control it via a little pop-up panel from the system tray. The panel shows phone status like battery and signal and control shortcuts for hotspot, silence, and locating your phone. It also shows your two most recent Chrome tabs. Notifications from your phone will be sent to Chrome OS, and you can even remotely reply to text message.
Sharing between devices is also getting better. Chrome OS will now pull down your list of Wi-Fi passwords from an Android phone, so you’ll only have to enter that super-secure password once, and it will be shared to your other (Google OS) devices. Google’s Airdrop-style Nearby Share has been on Android phone since last year, and now Google says that “in the coming months,” you’ll be able to share between Chrome OS and Android.
Chrome OS has a new “Tote” section that shows recently created files. This lives in the system tray, similar to the phone and quick-settings sections. From the files app, you can also pin important files to the Tote section for later. There’s a new screen-capture tool that will drop files in the Tote section, too. You can take screenshots or videos, and the gallery tool has a new “annotate” feature, so you can draw on the pictures.
A few features seem ripped straight from Android, like the circular icon background for everything and a media player in the quick settings.
Pressing the “Everything button” (Chrome OS’s Caps Lock replacement) + V will bring up the new clipboard, which will save your last five copied icons. You can right-click on a word to bring up “Quick Answers,” which will list a definition, translation, or unit conversion powered by the Google Assistant.
That’s about it. Chrome OS is still a dead-simple operating system, but there are some short-and-sweet additions. Most of them seem like Google doing its best MacOS impression, the OS that Chrome recently passed in market share.
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