Google launched Chrome OS a decade ago with a device you couldn’t even buy called the CR48. Now, you can get Chrome OS laptops from numerous manufacturers for a pittance, and they’re selling better than Apple computers. Google is celebrating 10 years of Chrome OS with the launch of version 89, which includes a phone hub, clipboard manager, improved virtual desktops, and more.
Google designed Chrome OS to be based almost entirely around the browser. That meant there were no apps available aside from Chrome extensions. Google has since expanded Chrome OS to support both Android and Linux apps, but the browser is still the main event. Chrome OS advances alongside the Chrome browser, ensuring that all supported Chromebooks and Chromeboxes have the latest security patches at all times.
The cloud-based nature of Chrome OS also means you don’t have to worry about losing your settings or software loadout when switching devices. After logging in, Chrome OS pulls down all your data automatically. However, Chrome OS could feel remarkably walled-in for an OS based around a browser. Chrome 89 will address that with several useful augmentations for Android phone owners.
In Chrome OS 89, there will be a new phone hub accessible via a button in the shelf UI right next to the clock. This popup lets you locate your phone, turn on or of the ringer, and even enable the hotspot to share the connection with your Chromebook. It’ll even show you your recent Chrome tabs in this menu, which was previously in the browser overflow menu.
Chrome OS will also get Nearby sharing, although it’s not live just yet. Nearby, which debuted on Android phones recently, is similar to Apple’s AirDrop. Once it’s live on Chromebooks, you’ll be able to use Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to share files and links much more easily. If you want to share a screenshot, Chrome OS 89 will make those better, too. Accessible from quick settings, the new screen capture tool supports screenshots and video captures and then stores them in a “tote” space on the Shelf bottom bar for easy access. Similarly, Chrome’s new clipboard manager lets you save five recent items and paste them without switching windows.
Lastly, Google has rolled out an improvement to Chrome’s Desks feature, which you probably just call virtual desktops like everyone who doesn’t work for Google. In the new tenth anniversary version, Chrome will restore windows on your Desks to their previous position after a restart.
Google says 50 new Chromebooks will launch this year. They’ll all have Chrome OS 89 or later pre-installed. If you’re already using a Chromebook, you should have an update pending.
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