Chrome OS 91 has officially arrived for most eligible Chromebooks, and with it, a handful of great new features. Most notably, the nearby sharing feature is now available to Chrome OS users, and transferring files to and from your device with other users is easier than ever. In case you missed it, here’s a short video from Robbie highlighting what’s new and new in the latest Chrome OS update. WAY: If you’re using a new generation Tiger Lake Chromebook, be patient. Chrome OS 91 is coming soon for you.
While the Chrome OS team has been busy finishing the touch of Chrome OS 91, the work is constantly moving forward in the chain in more experimental channels. More than once in the past week, my Canary device has received many updates in one day and the new features are appearing faster than I can test them and this is a very exciting thing. I have a little inside news to share later this week about a huge new feature for Chrome OS that is due in the next few months, but today I wanted to take a quick look at some of the new and updated features that are now working in the latest update Chrome OS Canary version 93.
Note: Some of these features may have reached the developer channel since they were upgraded to version 93. This is just a focus on things that are under development and actually work to some degree.
Submit a section to self 2.0
As Michael shared over the weekend, Google is working on a new version of the “Send the tab to itself” feature, which will bring the notification from the notifications in the system area and give it a special living space just to the right of the Chrome URL bar. . It was first seen in action in Chrome for Desktop, but now the feature works in the Canary channel on Chrome OS. I’ve been working on the flag for a few weeks, and I recently managed to activate the “connected devices” icon when sending a tab to my Chromebook, but clicking the icon didn’t do anything. A subsequent Canary update removed the feature completely.
However, the latest update returned the feature and I’m happy to announce that it seems to be working as intended. This feature allows you to share a webpage from your mobile device or other Chrome browser using the “send to your devices” option on the Chrome sharing list. Once sent, an icon will appear to the right of your extension icon in the upper right corner of the browser. Clicking on this icon will open the information section for the shared page, from which a URL can be opened in a new section. Once rejected, the icon disappears so as not to occupy real estate.
There is still work to be done on this new feature. Although it seems to be working properly, I found an unusual error. When enabled on multiple devices, sending a tab to one device causes the browser on the other Chromebook to simply crash and restart. I’m not sure why, but I’ll send feedback to help the developers deal with the issue.
The focus follows the cursor
Recently discovered by our friend Dinson Francis of Chrome Story, Google is introducing a new performance feature in Chrome OS that has apparently been sought after by users for years. The original feature request was opened in 2013, but developers have only recently started applying bits to add a “focus follows the cursor” feature to Chrome OS. This feature will be useful for users who use multiple displays and use multiple windows.
As the name suggests, the focus of the device will shift to any window that the mouse cursor holds. It will not bring this window forward if it is nested under other windows, but it will become the main focus and will therefore be the one with which the user now interacts via his keyboard. I guess this will save a lot of workflow time as it will reduce the number of clicks needed to navigate between windows and desktops.
Noise cancellation user interface
Last month, we shared a new feature that will soon give capable Chromebooks built-in noise reduction. I’m still not sure which devices will be able to use this technology, but I know that Tiger Lake processors have built-in artificial intelligence features that make noise reduction a natural feature for the devices they power. When the flag first appeared on the Canary Canal, it did absolutely nothing. To my surprise, the latest update to 93 added to the noise canceling switch to my 10th generation Comet Lake Chromebook. At this point, we haven’t had a chance to set up a test, but I’m worried about seeing the noise cancellation feature in action. Given the shift to distance work and learning, these types of features built into the hardware we use every day will be a much-needed addition to the entire laptop ecosystem, and I’m very happy to see Google come up with this. This week we will test the function of several devices to see if there are noticeable differences in the ambient noise that you can hear during a video call.
Lacrosse by default
The Linux-based browser, called Lacros, has been under development for more than a year, and we still don’t have an exact explanation of what Google’s intentions behind the project are. Whatever the plan, Lacros is being actively updated and changed for Chrome OS and is now enabled by default on the Canary channel. The standard Chrome OS browser is still there with PWA and other apps that are still the default for the native app, but Lacros opens with Chrome when you first sign in to your device and the new browser works so well that at first look it’s hard to say the two are separated.
We hope that Lacros will separate the Chrome browser from the actual operating system, which will allow developers to send updates independently. I also hope that this will allow users to continue using their Chromebooks after the end of the operating system. Much older devices are still very capable of handling light web tasks, and constant browser updates would provide safe and secure browsing, which could be years after EOL. Another great feature that Lacros offers on the table is the ability to sync multiple accounts with the browser instead of the actual operating system. This would make Chrome on Chrome OS more like Chrome on Windows, macOS and Linux and give users more flexibility when using multiple accounts.
That’s all for this, but there are more detection features in Chrome OS 93 and I’ll share them next week or so. I totally expect Chrome OS 92 and 93 to be full of great new features and unprecedented features when they hit the stable channel this year. 2021 is an exciting year for the Chromebook, and the best is yet to come. Watch for more.