This week in Chrome OS: Ampersands and the ASUS CX9
Welcome to This Week in Chrome OS, a weekly column dedicated to all things Chrome and Chromium. Every week we’ll run down the biggest hardware announcements, upcoming software features, and the most interesting rumors from around the web. With all of the exciting Chromebooks releasing in the second half of 2021 and gaming Chromebooks on the horizon, this is an exciting time to use Chrome OS. Let’s jump into this week’s news.
Google breaks Chrome OS for millions of users due to a single typo
The biggest news of the week is that Google locked millions of users out of their Chromebook this past Monday. In particular, Chrome OS 91.0.4472.165 contained a bug that would not allow users to login to their Chromebook with their correct account credentials. It was later reported that a single ‘&’ omitted from a conditional statement was the culprit of this particular bug.
Judging from online forums, many users lost valuable files as they powerwashed their machines attempting to gain access. Google pushed an update later in the week to fix the issue, but this is a pretty serious concern. Just a few weeks back, Google pushed out a similarly ill-fated update in Chrome OS 91.0.4472.147. These buggy releases don’t bode particularly well for Chrome moving to a faster update cycle later this year. Hopefully Google can figure this out before they move to a more rapid release timeline, with less time to debug.
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Go shipping to customers
Last week, Samsung announced the newest device in their Chromebook lineup. The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Go is an attractive device that is aimed at the education market. It certainly isn’t an enthusiast Chromebook, but it appears to be a nice option for students heading back to school. If you’re interested in picking up one of these devices, the Chromebook Go is now available from Samsung’s website for $299 and units are shipping to buyers already.
ASUS releases Chromebook CX9
For me, the most exciting news this week is the release of the ASUS Chromebook CX9. Back at CES 2021, ASUS announced this lineup of ultra-premium Chromebooks. Half of 2021 went by without much information about a release date or exact pricing. At the beginning of this week, ASUS placed preorder listings on their website for two models of the CX9.
There is a base model with a Core i3 Tiger Lake processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. This model is a classic clamshell Chromebook without a touch screen. The laptop has a premium build with a magnesium alloy body. The base model retails for $749. It’s honestly one of the nicest Chromebooks we’ve ever seen on the market.
The more premium CX9 model bumps up the processor to a Core i7, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD storage and adds a touchscreen. Not only that, but you also get a fingerprint sensor and a backlit number pad built into the touchpad. This more premium model retails for $1149 and claims 14 hours of battery life on a single use. I was so taken with this Chromebook that I bought one myself. In fact, I’m currently typing up this column from my new CX9. I will have a full review of this Chromebook soon enough, but I can say for now that it is an absolute gem of a device.
Google Assistant is getting Dark Mode on Chrome OS
Dark Mode all the things! Google’s been slowly working on Dark and Light themes for Chrome OS for awhile now, but Google Assistant is finally joining the party. Uncovered by Android Police, this recent Chromium commit shows that Assistant will get themed along with the shelf, launcher, and system tray. You can actually get a sneak preview of this change by enabling the Chrome Flag:
Hopefully Google will hurry up and roll out Dark and Light mode officially for Chrome OS. It seems like these features have been in testing for an eternity at this point.
Better screenshots are coming to Chrome OS
One thing Chrome OS isn’t known for is high-quality screenshots. There have long been issues with the way screenshots are captured on Chromebooks. In another Chromium commit discovered by Android Police, we now know that Google is working to address this issue in a future version of Chrome OS. The work-in-progress code changes the way Chrome OS calculates pixels from within the capture area.
Up until now, the recording service (used to perform the video recording) processed the captured area by its DIP, or density-independent pixels. Because DIP measurements aren’t directly proportional to the actual pixels of the capture, it caused the footage to scale down — resulting in a loss of quality and blurred video frames. With the updated logic, your Chromebook will capture the area at its native pixel size by calculating the values of both the DIP and the device’s scale factor.
This is a fairly big deal as screenshots are something every Chromebook user needs from time to time. You’d think that Google would’ve fixed this long before now, but it’s still nice to see progress that will improve the user experience on a day-to-day basis.
You’ll soon be able to name your Chromebook
Changing the hostname for your PC or Mac is fairly straightforward. It’s somewhat surprising that this feature hasn’t been available on Chrome OS until now. Luckily, you will be able to give your Chromebook any silly name you like in a future Chrome OS update. A series of Chromium commits suggests that Google is currently testing this feature.
The feature is not currently live, so there’s no way to test it yourself at the moment. However, when it shows up you will be able to change the name of your device directly through the Settings app under ‘About Chrome OS’. Near the bottom, of the page, a ‘Device name’ option will eventually exist. Clicking it once it’s fully rolled out will show ‘ChromeOS’ as the default name, and you can type in whatever you wish.
That’s about it for this week. Overall, a pretty busy one for Chrome news. I’m really looking forward to Dark mode rolling out in the future on Chrome OS. It was super exciting to unbox the ASUS CX9. Testing is already underway, so I’ll be getting to work on that review very soon. Stay tuned here at XDA for all the latest Chrome OS news daily. I’ll be back next week to wrap everything up again.