All new Chromebooks will get eight years of software updates
In Western countries, Chrome OS occupies an interesting niche of the personal computing market: education. The popularity of Chromebooks varies regionally: over the past few years, they have become very popular in markets such as the US and Western Europe, whereas their popularity still remains low in markets such as India. In the US and Western Europe, however, Chromebooks have become increasingly indispensable for students and educators because of their simplicity of use, affordability, and the useful feature of automatic software updates. Forty million students and educators use Chromebooks as of now, according to Google. Now, at the BETT event in London, the company has made more education-focused announcements for Chromebooks. The company is now extending the length of time it plans to support new Chrome OS education devices with security and platform updates, as part of a chance to its Chrome OS Automatic Update (AUE) policy. Automatic updates on Chrome OS provide security fixes as well as new features.
Starting 2020, Google will support new Chromebooks and tablets with automatic software updates for eight years. The first new devices announced with this feature are the Lenovo 10e tablet and the ASUS Chromebook 712, and they will get automatic updates until June 2028. Google notes that in the beginning, Chromebooks used to get only three years of software support. In the years since, the company had increased this period to six years of support. (Users can check the end-of-life status of their Chromebooks in the settings app.) Many Chromebooks got an extension of software support last year.
Google has also increased the price of its Chrome Education Upgrade, which is a one-time license school boards can purchase to get additional support from Google. It was $30 per device; now, it has been increased to $38 per device. It should be noted, however, that all new devices will get eight years of support regardless of whether a school buys the Chrome Education Upgrade.
Google has also introduced new features to the Chromebook App Hub. They will make it easier for teachers to find specific programs, as the new filtering tools allow educators to do an app search by school subject, availability of Google service integrations, or whether they take advantage of specific hardware features. Teachers are now able to filter for apps on the basis of compatibility with privacy laws such as COPPA and GDPR.
The company has also started to roll out originality reports. Beta testing for this feature began in summer 2019. Originality reports were designed to help students and teachers identify plagiarism. Students will be able to see whether they have accidentally plagiarized a work either by poorly paraphrasing a source or by not properly citing it. On the other hand, teachers can compare a student’s work against online materials. A new beta feature also lets them compare the students’ work with work submitted by students in other classes and past years. English users will get to use these features over the next month, while Spanish, Portuguese, and French users are now eligible for beta testing.
Finally, Google has also announced new Chromebooks specifically for the education market, such as the ASUS Chromebook Flip C214 and the Lenovo 500e Chromebook.