Chromebooks are not the most attractive product in Google’s lineup, so they rarely take the spotlight at the Google I / O developer conference. But this year, Google said that overall, Chrome OS products grew 92% year-over-year.
Between the widespread changes in cross-platform design, updates to Google Chrome, and some new Chrome OS-specific features, the future of the Chromebook has a lot to be excited about. Here everything is new in the world of Chromebooks coming from Google I / O 2021.
Support for android 11
We already knew that the Chromebook would be updated to Android 11 (from Android 9), but the store has undergone a major change with the implementation. Announced in a developer session, Android will no longer run in a container. Instead, it will now run as a virtual machine that Chrome OS already does with Linux.
Google says that this switch will help make apps more secure, as well as “reduce deviations from mainline Android.” Although Google says the migration will be seamless for both developers and Chromebook users, the move will result in faster Android updates for the Chromebook, which is great.
Spotlighting Customized Apps
Access to Android apps is a big feature of Chromebooks these days, but this does not mean that most Android apps are optimized for Chromebooks. Now, in the Google Play Store on Chromebooks, Google will highlight apps that say they have been “optimized” for Chrome OS devices. The idea is to encourage both developers to optimize their app, as well as guide users to better experiences within the App Store. Apple currently does something similar with M1-optimized apps in its Mac App Store.
Does an app qualify as optimized? According to Google, these are apps that take advantage of the larger screen, support common Chromebook inputs (mouse, keyboard, stylus, or game controller) and desktop-like functionality.
New password manager enhancements
Google spent a lot of time talking about security and privacy as its I / O keynote speaker, and one of the biggest changes will certainly apply to Chromebooks as well. Password Manager is already a feature in Chrome, but the announced update will make it even more useful.
First, the new tool makes it easy to import passwords from any other password manager you currently use. Google also states that Password Manager has “deep integration with Chrome and Android“, allowing it to auto-fill passwords on sites and apps on multiple devices, including Chromebooks.
The one-tap fix for compromised passwords is already a feature on Android devices, but Google says the feature will roll out to other sites and apps in the future.
Open Cart in Google Chrome
The change to Google Chrome is also a fundamental change for Chrome OS, and a lot of web-centric updates were announced in I / O this year. Google is hoping to make shopping easier on Google, and it is hoping to remind you of abandoned shopping carts. If you have opened a shopping cart on a site that you have closed, you will now see an icon for it on your main new tab page.
Other new shopping features include adding loyalty rewards programs to your Google accounts and improved shopping capabilities in Google Image Searches.
Docs and Sheets, Smart Canvas Updates
Finally, Google has announced some major changes to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides as Smart Canvas. Although it is not a Chromebook-specific feature, it does touch on some important web apps, which most Chromebook users rely heavily on. Smart Canvas is a way to interconnect applications in Google’s workspace suite, as well as include some useful features that are more collaborative.
After the features begin, you’ll be able to start Google Meet video chat directly in Google Docs, as well as using built-in, collaborative to-do lists. Meanwhile, the new tagging system will allow you to easily link between documents, as well as tag associates and even specific meetings on your calendar.
However, the best new Google Docs feature is support for pageless view. This makes Google Docs fully responsive for the first time, which Chromebook users will appreciate.