Chromebooks have come a long way since its introduction 10 years ago. What started out as a basic entry-level laptop has now become a powerful device that can do everything from helping people get things done to entertaining them while they unwind. In conjunction with its 10th birthday, the Chromebook is getting some new features and upgrades that will make it even more powerful.
Android phone integration
Google is launching two solutions that help your Chromebook and Android phone work better together.
With Phone Hub, you now have a built-in control centre that brings key capabilities from your Android phone to your Chromebook. Receive a text but your phone is out of reach? No problem. Respond to that message, check your phone’s battery life and cellular signal, turn on its hotspot and even locate it, all from your Chromebook. Phone Hub also shows the Chrome browser tabs you last opened on your Android phone, so you can pick up right where you left off.
Google has also extended Wi-Fi Sync to work with more devices, making it easier and faster to get online. Your Chromebook can now automatically connect to trusted Wi-Fi networks you’ve used on your Android phone and other Chrome OS devices when signed in with the same Google Account — no need to enter in the credentials again.
In the coming months, you’ll also be able to use Nearby Share to instantly and securely share files between your Chromebook and other Chrome OS or Android devices. Nearby Share lets you send and receive without sharing contact details, so your information and files stay private.
Expanded Quick Settings menu
The new Screen Capture tool in your Quick Settings menu lets you take precise screenshots and screen recordings without needing to remember keyboard shortcuts. Once you take a screen capture, it’ll instantly show up in Tote, a new space that keeps important files right at your fingertips. Open Tote from your Shelf and you’ll see all your recent downloads, recent screen captures and pinned files.
Your media controls are also now built directly into the Quick Settings menu, so you’ll always know where to go to play, pause or skip to the next song that you’re playing from the web or an Android app. You can pin this media player directly to your Shelf for immediate access.
New parental control
Google has also streamlined the Chromebook setup for parents and guardians to highlight two important tools. Now when parents set up a new Chromebook using their child’s personal Google Account (managed with Family Link), they can immediately add a school account. Their child can then use school apps like Google Classroom while Family Link controls on their device still apply, so parents can supervise while they do homework. They can also assist their child in creating a PIN during setup, so signing in to their Chromebook is easier.
Time-saving work tools
With its new Clipboard, your Chromebook saves the last five items copied so you can easily paste any or all to a new page without needing to switch between windows. Just press the Everything Button + V to use your Clipboard.
There’s also Quick Answers which automatically offers helpful information like a definition, a translation or unit conversion when you right-click a word. No need to open a separate tab to search for the answer.
Desks has been supercharged with enhancements to help you organise your workspace. Now when you reboot, all your windows will restore to their previous desks so your workflow isn’t interrupted. Right-click at the top of a window to send it directly to one or all desks and swipe across your trackpad with four fingers to switch between desks. To get started with Desks, open Overview mode and create a new desk.
Updates to existing features
You can now share files, images and links between apps in fewer steps. When you click “share” on a supported app or website, you’ll see a list of apps you can share content with directly. For example, you’ll be able to share an image from your Files app to the Microsoft Word app with just a few clicks.
Select-to-speak which enables you to hear text read out loud also has new controls that let you speed up, slow down and pause the reading voice in real-time and easily jump to different sections of text. These are especially helpful for people with low vision and specific learning or print disabilities.
Last but certainly not least, the icons for your Chromebook’s built-in apps have a fresh new look, making it easier for you to find essential apps made for Chrome OS like Canvas and Explore.