This week in Chrome OS: Tensor Chromebooks coming soon?
Happy 23rd birthday to Google! Google was officially born on September 4, 1998. Without Google, Chrome OS and this column wouldn’t be possible. If you’re interested, I wrote a piece on how Chrome as a browser killed Microsoft’s IE. We also have tons of other fun articles celebrating Google and Chrome’s birthday. For Google’s birthday, we have some news about the potential of a Tensor Chromebook coming soon.
The possibility of a Tensor Chromebook made by Google has me hyped. Microsoft is done with Android apps on Chrome OS, which might hamper your workflow. The HP Chromebook x2 11 is also now shipping from Best Buy and is available locally in many markets. Let’s talk about all of that and more, as we run down this week in Chrome OS.
Google Tensor Chromebook coming in 2023?
We already know that Google is putting custom chips, dubbed Tensor, in this year’s Pixel 6 lineup. When that information became public, I speculated that Chromebooks with Tensor chips might not be far behind. Earlier this week, it was revealed that Google is indeed working on custom CPUs for Chromebooks. Apparently, the new CPUs for Chrome hardware could arrive as early as 2023.
While we don’t know if these chips will share the Tensor name with the Pixel 6, it is awesome to see Google working on custom silicon for computers. Apple’s M1 chip is a huge hit and brought amazing performance and battery life gains to the Macbook lineup. With a custom chip, Google can focus on the Chromebook applications most important for user experience. I can hardly wait for the next Pixelbook at this point.
Microsoft ending Android app support for Office on Chrome OS
If you use Microsoft Office Android apps on your Chromebook, you’ll need to switch to webs apps soon. Microsoft recently announced they are ending support for Office Android apps in Chrome OS. Support for these apps will officially end on September 18. Microsoft is pushing Chrome OS users toward their Progressive Web App suite for Office. This is consistent with their policy of not allowing users to edit with mobile apps on larger screens, which certainly includes Chromebooks.
The PWA version of each Office app isn’t too bad, but it does limit the options for working offline on your Chromebook. Currently, you can’t work while offline using Microsoft’s Office PWAs. This is a bummer for anyone that likes to use their Chromebook while not connected. Hopefully, Microsoft will come up with a solution for editing local files at some point.
HP Chromebook x2 11 shipping now and initial user reviews
If you’ve been following Chrome hardware news the past few weeks, you’ve definitely heard us talk about the HP Chromebook x2 11. This new Chrome tablet looks poised to be one of the best we’ve seen in a long time. HP went all out on this product, including a built-in USI stylus, keyboard with kickstand, and fingerprint scanner. The device also comes with a few new software tricks, including Google’s new Cursive app and HP’s QuickDrop functionality.
We’re currently waiting to receive a review unit from HP, but you can already buy the retail version of the HP Chromebook x2 11 from Best Buy. There are also several Best Buy stores around the country with current stock of the device. You might even be able to pick one up right now if you’re so inclined.
Users seem impressed so far with the HP Chromebook x2 11. The reviews on Best Buy’s website are incredibly positive so far. Most people note that the Chromebook x2 11 has much more premium build than other Chrome OS tablet options like the ASUS CM3 and Lenovo Chromebook Duet. Overall, it looks like this tablet could be the go-to option for Chrome users for awhile.
Use Google’s new Cursive PWA right now
Speaking of the HP Chromebook x2 11, the new Cursive app from Google was supposed to be exclusive to that device at launch. Unfortunately for Google and HP, Cursive is a PWA, and the app was already outed by our friends over at Chrome Unboxed.
If you want to use the Cursive PWA on any Chromebook or other device, simply head to https://cursive.apps.chrome. The experience is a bit hit or miss, especially on devices that aren’t Chromebooks. When you visit the link, you’ll likely get a pop-up that the app is designed for Chromebooks, if you open it on another device. Even if you do open the app on a Chromebook other than the HP Chromebook x2 11, there are a few bugs here and there. I’ve tried the app on my Pixelbook Go and Galaxy Chromebook 2. Things worked much better on the newer Galaxy Chromebook 2, so your mileage may vary.
That’s all the big Chrome OS news for this week. I’m hoping to have the HP Chromebook x2 11 in hand for review soon. Look out for a fun piece on AMD vs Intel vs Qualcomm Chrome OS performance this week, it was a fun one to research and write.