Category Archives: General Information on Chrome

Chrome OS Version 57 Has Been Released

Here’s an overview of the changes. Note the PIN Unlock feature!

Stable Channel Updates for Chrome OS

Google Chrome Blog – By: Ketaki Deshpande – “The Stable channel has been updated to 57.0.2987.123 (Platform version: 9202.56.1, 9202.56.2) for all Chrome OS devices except AOpen Chromebase Mini, AOpen Chromebox Mini, Google Chromebook Pixel (2015), ASUS Chromebook Flip C100PA, Samsung Chromebook Plus. This build contains a number of bug fixes, security updates, and feature enhancements. Systems will be receiving updates over the next several days.

Some highlights of these changes are:

  • Enable silent authentication
  • Updated default wallpaper
  • Updated boot animation
  • Media files from Android Applications available in Files
  • Application
  • PIN unlock is available on all Chromebooks
  • Chrome Camera App Front/Rear Flip UI
  • Image copy/paste feature for Citrix Receiver on Chrome OS
  • Power button now turns off display on devices that support tablet-mode

Security Fixes:
Note: Access to bug details and links may be kept restricted until a majority of users are updated with a fix. We will also retain restrictions if the bug exists in a third party library that other projects similarly depend on, but haven’t yet fixed.

If you find new issues, please let us know by visiting our forum or filing a bug. Interested in switching channels? Find out how. You can submit feedback using ‘Report an issue…’ in the Chrome menu (3 vertical dots in the upper right corner of the browser).”

Android O Will Address the Chromebook Keyboard

I am looking foward to Android O!

Android O will work better on Chromebooks, thanks to improved keyboard support

The Verge – By: Nick Statt – “Part of Google’s upcoming Android O release is a new and improved model for keyboard navigation, which will make using Android apps on a Chromebook a little less frustrating. As it stands today, a majority of Android apps are designed with only touchscreen navigation in mind. That makes them hard to use on larger screens, and pretty much unusable on devices that rely solely on keyboard and mouse inputs. So with Android O, Google wants to give developers an opportunity to integrate better keyboard navigation so Android apps can play a bit nicer with Chrome OS laptops.

‘With the advent of Android Apps on Chrome OS and other large form factors, we’re seeing a resurgence of keyboard navigation use within Android apps,’ Dave Burke, Google’s vice president of engineering for Android, writes in a blog post. ‘In Android O we focused on building a more reliable, predictable model for ‘arrow’ and ‘tab’ navigation that aids both developers and end users.’

Google first announced cross-platform capability for Android apps at last year’s I/O developer conference in May. Since then, Google has added support for a number of a different Chromebook models from companies like HP, Dell, Samsung, and Asus. The company also attempted to bridge its two software ecosystems together to make the process of using Chrome OS as simple and seamless as an Android smartphone.

Yet that last mission hasn’t been so successful. Too often new Chromebooks, regardless of whether they’re from Google or Samsung or manufacturers, feel unequipped to handle mobile apps. That’s made Android support on Chrome OS feel like a beta feature waiting for the finished software touches. As time goes on, however, we can expect Google to use newer versions of Android to make the experience smoother and more refined. Keyboard navigation is a small step, but it’s one in the right direction.”

2-In-1 Chromebooks Are Getting a Fix to the Power Button

This will help them function more like a tablet when in tablet mode.

2-in-1 Chromebooks will start using the power button correctly in a future Chrome OS version

9to5 Google – By: Ben Schoon – “2-in-1 Chromebooks like the Samsung Chromebook Plus and ASUS C302A are just begging to be used with Android apps as tablets, however, there are some key differences between these and your traditional tablet ─ aside from Chrome OS that is. One of those is how the power button acts when the device is in tablet mode, but that’s soon changing…

Currently, Chromebooks that have 360-degree hinges only change how they work in terms of disabling the keyboard and adding free rotation of the UI. Everything else works exactly the same as it does in laptop mode. That includes the power button, which in laptop mode acts first as a button to lock the device with the screen on, then turn off the machine with a longer press.

Android tablets, on the other hand, immediately lock and turn off the display when the power button is pressed, activating sleep mode. It’s a little thing, but having this on a convertible Chromebook would certainly make things feels a bit more familiar, and that’s exactly what Google is working on.

As pointed out by ChromeUnboxed, the beta channel of Chrome OS currently supports using the power button as a sleep button on the Samsung Chromebook Plus. One click turns off the display and puts the machine in sleep mode while a second click brings it back to life at the lockscreen. This is certainly a welcome change for these machines, and is only going to be more vital as new hardware debuts, especially the Chrome OS tablets and detachables that are coming soon…”

Neverware Now Supports Microsoft Office 365!

Neverware, now with Office 365?!

Neverware’s Chrome OS for old computers now includes Office 365

Engadget – By: Devindra Hardawar – “Neverware has made a name for itself with its CloudReady software, which essentially transforms any old PC or Mac into a Chromebook. But while that’s a nice way to breathe new life into aging computers, it’s naturally reliant on Google’s online services. Now, the company is offering a new version of Cloud Ready for schools that integrates Microsoft’s Office 365 online suite instead. It might seem blasphemous, but it could be useful for schools and other organizations that are already deeply integrated with Microsoft’s software.

While it’s still basically just Chrome OS, the new version of CloudReady will sport integration with OneDrive instead of Google Drive. And similarly, it’ll point you to the online versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and other Microsoft software. There’s nothing stopping you from using the online Office 365 apps with the original version of CloudReady, but the deeper integration could make it a bit easier to use for students, teachers and administrators.

Another plus? Neverware’s Office 365 version of CloudReady will cost just $1 per student every year (or $15 per device annually). That’ll make it very useful for cash-strapped school districts. Neverware worked together with Microsoft to develop the new version of its OS, which should allay IT department fears about relying on a young software company.”

Are More Cameras on the Horizon for Chromebooks?

It looks like more cameras could be coming to future Chromebooks!

Chrome OS Camera Gets Multi-Camera Options

Chrome Unboxed – By: Robby Payne – “Up until this point, the camera app for Chrome OS has been limited to a single camera. Namely, the camera right above your screen. And, until now, that has been all that is really needed. Chromebooks keep it simple, and a single webcam is as simple as it gets.

We are now seeing reports from Google’s own François Beaufort that the standard Chrome OS Camera is now capable of multi-camera input.

So, if you have a webcam sitting around or a much nicer camera that can act as a USB webcam, just plug it in and the camera app will give you the ability to choose between all of your connected cameras.

Sure, this isn’t exactly ground-breaking, but it is sign of things to come and a potentially beneficial feature moving forward. Let me explain.

A POSSIBLE USE CASE

For YouTubers, this addition could become very useful. YouTube Live is just getting started, but I can see us using a Chromebook connected to our Sony A6000 for live video.

With the Android YouTube app, a camera, and a Chromebook, you could be uploading some potentially crispy live video.

Sure, it is nice to use a phone for live video, but being able to set up a tripod with a more capable camera is very interesting, to say the least.

SIGN OF THINGS TO COME

Additionally, this change points clearly to a future (one that is coming very soon) with Chrome OS Tablets. Front and rear-facing cameras are common on tablets, so this change is more likely a move to accommodate this new form factor we are looking very forward to. Though the multiple camera setup would be nice on a standard Chromebook, this tablet implementation is likely the reason behind the move.

Either way and for any of the use cases you can think of, this is yet another step forward in the ever-evolving Chrome OS landscape.”

Chromebooks Can Now Use Skype for Web

Audio only so far, but it is still useful!

Chromebooks can now make voice calls with Skype for Web

PC World – By: Chris Hoffman – Chromebooks can now participate in audio calls using Microsoft’s Skype for Web. Microsoft didn’t officially announce this new feature, but it’s already working today. This feature now works on Linux, too.

Skype for Web just works

This feature should “just work.” Head to the Skype for Web website, sign in with your Skype account, and click the voice call button for one of your Skype contacts. Chrome will ask if you want to share your microphone with Skype. Agree and the call will happen normally, just like it would via the Skype client application on a desktop PC or phone. It now uses standards-based web technologies instead of the plugin it initially required on Windows.

While audio calls work and work well, video features don’t yet seem to be working on Chrome OS. Skype for Web already offered solid text-messaging support for Chromebook users.

This new feature is a boon to Chromebook users who place Skype calls and Linux users who are sick of Microsoft’s crumbling Skype for Linux application.

Skype’s Android app is still an option

Chromebook users already have another way to run Skype on their Chromebooks. They can install the Skype Android app. Unfortunately, Android app support is currently in beta and will initially be limited to a small number of Chromebooks.

If you really want video calls on Chrome OS and can’t wait, you can still install the Skype Android app via Google’s ARC Welder application. This makes use of Google’s previous Android-on-Chrome technology, and it doesn’t work as well as the new Android app support. However, you can use ARC Welder on any Chromebook today without installing developer builds of Chrome OS.

New Features in Chrome!

I usually don’t talk about Chrome Browser specific options, but these look good, and are also, (of course) it will be in the ChromeOS/Chromebook eventually as well.

Google’s Chrome browser has a new ‘Cast’ option, mirrors to Hangouts

TNW – By: Nate Swanner – “Google Cast, the underlying technology behind Chromecast, is being baked directly into Chrome, and can be used for Hangouts.

Chrome

The Chrome browser will have a new ‘Cast’ feature in the drop-down menu in Chrome 51, which is currently in beta.

As you can with the extension, Cast simply lets you cast your browser tab onto a TV or other Cast-enabled monitor. While the extension may no longer be needed, it’ll continue to work — and may be a more streamlined option if you cast often.

Interestingly, Google has also offloaded things like streaming rate and screen resolution to boilerplate functions. Instead of manicuring a good stream, you’ll soon just be streaming while Google Cast does the heavy lifting.

Cast will also be found in Chrome OS.

Hangouts

Google’s chat service is also getting the ability to receive Google Casts.

A beta feature first spotted last May, Cast to Hangouts now seems to be rolling out as a stable release. In the comments section of an Android Police article noting the feature, one user notes it also peeks into your calendar to find scheduled hangouts:

I have this working (though buggy) in Chrome OS v52. My workplace uses Hangouts for our meetings. If I choose the Cast option in the menu it finds meetings in my calendar and lets me share my tab or desktop to the hangout. It’s similar to screensharing in a Hangout but there’s no audio transmitted. One use case is if you’re in a room set up with a Chromebox for Meetings and want to share your screen with everyone, without having to join the Hangout.

The support page for casting to Hangouts also lists ‘cloud services’ as options for casting, though doesn’t list any specifically. As casting seems to be best suited for video chats in Hangouts, it seems Google’s new Duo app could also see screencasts, but we’re betting Google is just laying the groundwork for any service that may use it down the line.”

Is a Chromebook Pro Coming?

Are we going to get a Chromebook Pro? And, what does that mean?

Google is apparently surveying people about what a ‘Chromebook Pro’ should be like

VentureBeat – By: Jordan Novet – “Google appears to be looking into the idea of a ‘Chromebook Pro.’ Through its Google Opinion Rewards app for Android, which gives people Google Play Store credits in exchange for anonymous responses to surveys, Google asked some people a few questions about a ‘Chromebook Pro.’

Two people said as much yesterday on Reddit. Reddit user feetextreme posted a screenshot of one of the questions: ‘How would you think a Chromebook Pro is different than a Chromebook?’ Reddit user jellofort wrote that Google ‘asked what a Chromebook Pro should be like in my opinion and what type of people would want to use it.’

The word ‘Pro’ would imply a high-end laptop running Chrome OS, just like, say, the MacBook Pro or the Surface Pro 4. But there are many other companies — Asus, Dell, HP, and Samsung, among others — that make Chromebooks, along with Google. It isn’t clear from these survey questions if Google is thinking about making a Chromebook Pro itself, just as it has made high-end Chromebook Pixel laptops, or if Google is just wondering how consumers would perceive a Chromebook Pro made by a third party.

Meanwhile, Google last month published a job posting entitled ‘Quality Engineer, Chromebook Pixel,’ suggesting that a third generation of that device could be on the way.

In any case, a new type of Chromebook with top-of-the-line specifications could be more enticing to consumers in the coming months, now that it’s becoming possible to use Android apps on Chromebooks.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.”

Chromebooks Begin Making a Dent!

Even PC-based folks are beginning to see the point with Chromebooks!

Chromebooks are the new “it just works” platform

ZDNet – By Adrian Kingsley-Hughes – “Whenever I point out — just like I did here — that Chromebooks are a great bit of kit with massive potential, there are people who are quick to point out their shortcomings compared to fully-featured laptops.

They’re right. If you want a mobile device that can play games or run heavy-duty applications such as Photoshop, then yes, you need a laptop. Same goes for those who like to have a big, monolithic operating system that they can customize and tinker with. Those people need Windows or macOS or Linux.

Chromebooks are also a poor choice for people who love to brag about gigahertz and terabytes and how many cores their system has.

So yes, I absolutely agree with you. Chromebooks aren’t for everyone.

But here are segments of the market where Chromebooks are perfect — business and BYOD.

The biggest advantage that Chromebooks bring to the table is that they are a no-nonsense computing platform that allows people to focus on getting the job done without the distractions of updates and antivirus and bloatware and nags to download and install the latest and greatest operating system.

Chromebooks are so incredibly low maintenance that for someone coming from a big platform — especially Windows — it can feel rather disconcerting initially. The amount of time that a Chromebook user needs to spend on maintenance can be measured in seconds.

Seriously, seconds.

About 10 seconds a month.

There’s also no malware to worry about. All Chromebook applications are safely sandboxed, all local data encrypted, and verified boot makes sure that nothing dodgy is loaded when the system boots up.

Lost and stolen systems — something that admins worry about a lot — are not a problem with Chromebooks. Data is backed up automatically in the background, and in the event that a Chromebook does go missing, not only can it be remotely locked and wiped, but all that’s needed to get the person mourning the loss of their device back in the game is hand them a new Chromebook. Migrating all the data and settings to the new system is as simple as just logging into it.

Chromebooks remove almost all of the hassles that plague the Windows ecosystem, and bring benefits at a price point that Apple cannot match with its MacBooks.

Chromebooks are the new ‘it just works’ platform.”

The Big Switch is Happening – People Are Embracing Chromebooks!

More and more people are making the big switch. When will you?

Why your next laptop should be a Chromebook

ZDNet – By Adrian Kingsley-Hughes – “Most of us are wasting money on overpowered, overpriced laptops because we’re sold on the idea that we need them. We don’t. And there’s a better-suited alternative – the Chromebook.

Over the years I’ve gone through a number of high-end laptops. Right now I’m typing this on a MacBook Pro with sixteen gigabytes of RAM, one terabyte of storage, an Intel Core i7 processor, and a high-pixel-density display. It’s a great system, but I’m also very aware of the fact that it’s a lot of power for what I do mostly, which is research and write.

Now, there are times when having that power comes in handy, I occasionally run Photoshop and other resource-demanding applications on it, but most of the time I’m only doing this because I can and there’s usually a perfectly good desktop system not far away that I’m choosing not to use.

I’m increasingly using it because it’s there, not because I need to.

If you’re the sort of person who uses their laptop to run something like Photoshop or Lightroom or something similar on a regular basis, then you can probably stop reading right now. You know what you’re doing and need the power that a full-blown laptop offers you. However, if you’re the sort of person who uses their laptop for browsing the web, working with word processor documents or spreadsheets, consuming content and the like, then choosing to make the switch to a Chromebook is not only gong to save you money, but it’s also going to make your life easier.

‘How’s that?’ I hear you ask.

Well, first off, backups are automatic, painless, and very reliable. And I’m not just talking about the data, but also all the settings. If your Chromebook is lost or stolen or breaks, you can buy a new one, log into it, and you’ve migrated to your new system.

Chromebooks are incredibly low maintenance. There’s no laborious uninstalling or defragging or optimizing to do. You fire it up, and it works. Most the updates are quietly applied in the background, and the average ntime from reboots to apply updates is about 10 seconds a month. Compared to how naggy and demanding of the user’s attention Windows PCs are — Macs are less demanding — moving to a Chromebook frees you up of all those hassles.

This is not an easy decision to make. There are some critical nuances you have to consider before you go one way or the other. In this article, we take a look at those factors.

There’s also no malware — and, by extension, antivirus applications — to worry about. All Chromebook extensions are safely sandboxed, all local data encrypted, and verified boot makes sure that nothing suspicious is loaded when the system boots up.

It’s weird when you first switch to a Chromebook because the experience feels so quiet and peaceful. You don’t get nags to upgrade to the latest operating system, or popups telling you that your antivirus has expired, or weird random error messages coming from nowhere.

You just get on with what you wanted to get on with in the first place. And if you want to be distracted by something, you get to choose your poison — a YouTube video, a cat GIF, or your favorite cartoon site — rather than allowing your laptop to spin the ‘operating system wheel of randomness.’

I’ll admit that at first this ‘not having to constantly hand-hold the system’ is a bit disconcerting. After all, I’ve been doing it for years, and it felt neglectful to not be tinkering with it, but after a while the anxiety wears off and you just use the system.

And then you come back to a Windows or OS X system, and it hits you just how noisy, distracting, stressful, and downright taxing these systems are. Owning a Chromebook is a bit like owning an iPad or Android tablet — the system itself feels invisible, allowing you to focus on the things you want to do.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that Android apps are coming to Chromebooks. Imagine that, being able to access the Google Play catalog from your Chromebook. This will bring a whole raft of apps to the Chromebook platform, and with it a whole new set of use cases.

And it’s not just Android apps that will work, but also Android Instant Apps, where you can run apps by just clicking on links. Pretty soon running apps on a Chromebook will be just as quick and easy as opening web pages.

And if your laptop is a work machine, and your company uses Google Apps, then your Chromebook can slide right into your workflow.

The Chromebook really is a capable device, and over the coming months it’s going to get a whole lot better.

If you’re in the market for a laptop, and you’re not the small number of people who need to have a portable workstation, then a Chromebook could be just what you need.”