Google is celebrating the 10th birthday of its Chrome OS operating system in style. Chromebook owners will be getting a big set of new features to mark the miestone, including a “Phone Hub” that will bring Android phones closer to Chrome OS, as well as a new built-in screen recorder.
According to Google, these new features are all designed to help people get things done, as well as “provide a simple computing experience to people who use Chromebooks.” With most new features coming in Chrome OS version 89, Google also hopes the features will “entertain [people] while they unwind.”
But the biggest feature of the bunch is Phone Hub. Like Microsoft’s Your Phone app in Windows 10, this new Chrome OS experience is designed to bring some of the key controls of Android phones over to a Chromebook. Available by clicking a phone icon in the Chrome OS tray, you’ll be able to respond to messages, check your Android phone’s battery life, turn on a hot spot, and even sync your recently opened browser tabs.
Another big feature is the addition of the Screen Capture tool in Quick Settings. With the tool, you’ll be able to take more precise screenshots and screen recordings without having to remember keyboard shortcuts. Saved recordings and captures will save to “Tote” which is a new space to pin and keep your important files at hand.
Other key improvements coming soon to Chromebooks include new media controls and an improved clipboard. There will be media controls in the Quick Settings menu (and the option to pin it) so you can easily control songs or any media playing through the web browser.
With the improved clipboard, you’ll be able to save the last five items copied so you can easily paste any or all to a new page without needing to switch between windows. This can be accessed by clicking the “everything button” and V on the keyboard.
Smaller features coming soon to Chrome OS include Wi-Fi Sync to sync up your Chromebook to trusted Wi-Fi networks, Nearby Share to securely share files between other Chrome OS or Android devices, and an improved file sharing and Desks experience.
Even the Chromebook setup process has been streamlined, making it easier for a parent to add a child’s school account. Finally, there’s Quick Answers, which will automatically offer helpful information like a definition, a translation, or unit conversion when you right-click a word — without having to open a tab or search.
Google says all these features will be launched with a special update. Following the Chrome OS update schedule, this means you can expect it in Chrome OS 89. All Chromebooks should update automatically to that latest release when it’s available, but you can check by going to Chrome OS settings, choosing About Chrome OS, and then Check for Updates.
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