This week in Chrome OS: Chrome 93 hits stable and more
Welcome back Chrome fans. We’ve got a new stable version of Chrome OS, as Chrome OS 93 is rolling out. Most devices should have received the update by now, so we’ll remind you of some of the key features to check out. In addition to the new stable release, we have some interesting upcoming features to look forward. Perhaps the most exciting of those is an easier way to reinstall Chrome OS without using a USB drive. We also have an absolutely ridiculous number of Chrome OS tablets releasing and coming down the pipeline in development. We’ll take a look at the current options in the Chrome tablet space and run down what could be coming later this year. Let’s get into it.
Chrome OS 93 rolling out: Key features
While many of the Chrome OS 93 features were prominently featured in the developer and beta channels for quite awhile, there are some nice improvements to know about.
Google introduced Tote to see your recent files and screenshots easier at a glance. Originally launched with Chrome OS 89, the Tote feature is getting even better in Chrome OS 93. Namely, you now see your last three files at the top of the Tote window, making it easier to find screenshots you recently took. Later this year, Google plans on adding your file’s download status in both the shelf preview and in Tote.
Better app movement in launcher
The Chrome OS launcher is honestly still a mess, but Google made it a little bit better in Chrome OS 93. You can now get a better idea of where an app is moving when you hold and drag it in the launcher. This makes it easier to rearrange your apps and organize them. What would be even nicer, is an alphabetical arrangement, which should be coming soon according to previous leaks.
Better Android app integration
In Chrome OS 93, you’ll get a more robust integration of Android apps that aren’t explicitly designed to be compatible with Chrome OS. Crashes are fairly common with Android apps on Chrome OS, simply because there weren’t originally designed to run on the Chrome platform. Chrome OS 93 will lock the window size to whatever screen the developer designed it for.
For any apps that aren’t explicitly designed for Chromebooks, you’ll find a new menu in the center of an app’s title bar — clicking on it will show three presets: Phone, Tablet, and Resizeable. If you select Resizeable, Chrome OS will warn you that the app may experience issues or restart.
Faster video playback
Consuming media is one of the best uses for a Chromebook or Chrome OS tablet. If you’re watching a long documentary or other informational video, it’s sometimes helpful to speed up the playback for faster viewing. In Chrome 93, you will find dedicated controls to speed up your video playback. This feature is actually available across the Chrome browser on all platforms, but it’s useful enough to gain a mention here anyway.
Upcoming feature: Reinstall Chrome OS without USB drive
Reinstalling Chrome OS can definitely be a pain. You need access to a separate Chromebook, Macbook, or PC plus a USB drive. If you have those items the process is fairly quick, but not everyone has a spare laptop laying around. Thankfully, it appears that Google is working on a solution for those that have ran into this issue. This Chromium Gerrit commit shows that Google is working to allow booting from miniOS kernels on the disk of your current Chromebook, circumventing the need to use a second laptop and USB drive.
This would certainly be a welcome feature for many users that utilize a Chromebook as their primary device daily. Working with a number of Chromebooks myself everyday, this feature would help me out quite a bit in the rare cases that something goes wrong with a device.
Chrome OS tablets: What’s available and what’s coming soon?
It seems like Chrome OS tablets are popping up everywhere now. Last month, HP kicked things off by announcing the incredibly capable HP Chromebook x2 11, with built-in USI stylus. Following that up, Lenovo announced the larger 13.3″ Chromebook Duet 5, which looks like a great option that want a larger Chrome OS tablet for media consumption and productivity. In addition to these newer options, we also have last year’s original Chromebook Duet and the Pixel Slate to consider.
According to our friends at Chrome Unboxed, it appears the wave of Chrome OS tablets isn’t over yet. They’ve been tracking two additional Chrome OS tablets code-named ‘Wormdingler’ and ‘MrBland’, which look to follow in the footsteps of the HP Chromebook x2 11. Both tablets appear to have slightly lower resolution panels at 1920×1080, but the other specs look similar to HP’s offering. It will certainly be nice to have a few more options in the Chrome OS tablet space, something I think a lot of Chrome fans want.
Speaking of the HP Chromebook x2 11, if you’ve wanted to buy one, now is the absolute best time to do so. Best Buy currently has the HP Chromebook x2 11 on sale for $399, which is a $200 price drop from its original launch price of $599. Hit the Best Buy link below to pick up a sweet new Chrome OS tablet at a bargain price.
That’s it for this week, we’ll be back with more Chrome OS news soon. We’re also hoping to get the HP Chromebook x2 11 and Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 in for a proper review soon. We’ll also do a more detailed analysis of the pros and cons of each tablet.