Google enables Ambient Mode by default in Chrome OS, bringing a Screen Saver to Chromebooks
For over a year now, Chrome OS has featured an Ambient Mode, which could be enabled via a feature flag. Ambient Mode essentially served as the platform’s version of a screensaver, and in version 88 of Chrome OS Canary, the feature flag has been set to true by default.
The new screensaver option appears under Personalization in Settings. When the feature is active, it will show photos, time, weather, and media info — essentially turning your Chromebook into a Smart Display. Before Ambient Mode was introduced, devices running Chrome OS would simply turn their displays off, seemingly in an effort to preserve battery life.
Adding a screensaver makes Chrome OS feel more like a traditional desktop, rather than a tablet with a keyboard. It’s a small change, but it does make a big difference. For the background, users can choose to either show an art gallery of famous works or their favorite photos and albums from Google Photos, the latter of which adds a nice touch of personalization.
Google’s Ambient Mode has become one of the company’s best inventions since its announcement in 2019. There’s nothing all that groundbreaking or complicated about the feature, but it’s just informative enough, and personal enough, to provide users with an improved hands-off experience. With Ambient Mode turned on by default in Chrome OS, you don’t have to wake your device up to get information like time, weather, and more.
Of course, you have the option to turn Ambient Mode off entirely. But if you’re accustomed to using the feature on your phone or Smart Display, it’s probably one of those features you’d rather leave on. It’s unclear, however, what kind of impact the feature might have on battery life, so be cautious if your Chromebook isn’t hooked up to a power source.
Chrome OS Canary is currently on version 88, which is expected to be promoted to stable during the last week of January 2021.