It’s Chrome OS’ 10th birthday this year, and Google is introducing a bunch of new features to celebrate, set to roll out to users soon. While some of these features may have been available earlier in developer builds, they are beginning to roll out widely today.
One of the most notable new features is Phone Hub, which allows for quick access to useful features on your phone. For example, you can now silence or locate your phone right from your Chromebook, as well as enable a hotspot. The latter could be particularly handy if you’re often on the move and have to constantly switch between Wi-Fi and mobile data.
But perhaps my favorite feature in the Phone Hub is quick access to the two most recent tabs I used on my phone. I use my phone and laptop equally for browsing; having to navigate my way to my last page on the previous device gets tiresome, so it’s nice to see tighter integration here. The new hub, which lives on the bottom right corner of your screen, will also let you quickly see your phone’s battery life.
There’s a lot more being announced today. Nearby Share, Google’s take on AirDrop, will allow you to instantly share files between Chromebooks, as well as Android devices, so you don’t have to email files to yourself anymore. There’s also a new Screen Capture tool in Quick Settings that lets you quickly grab a screenshot or record video without having to remember the keyboard shortcut.
This leads us to one of the other most interesting new features, called Tote. It’s essentially a hub for quick access to things you might need immediately or use regularly. For example, you’ll see your recent screen captures here, as well as recent downloads and pinned files; you can pin any file by simply right-clicking any file in the Explorer app. You can access Tote on the right side of the Chrome OS shelf as well.
Other new features include:
- Quick Answers lets you highlight text to quickly lookup definitions and information.
- The clipboard now saves the last five items you’ve copied.
- Desks, Chrome OS’ take on virtual windows, now keeps your app layout even after a restart. You can also now right-click a window to send to one or all desks.
- Google’s refreshed the icons for Chrome OS’ built-in apps.
- Select-to-speak, Chrome OS’ narration tool, now lets you speed up, slow down, or pause narration.
The updates are rolling out to users now. For more on what’s new, you can check out Google’s hub here.
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