Google has been working on an Ambient Mode for Chrome OS for quite a while — like Chromecasts or Nest displays, it's meant to show you a slideshow of artworks or a selection of images from your Google Photos library while your laptop is charging. For a few months, that's all the feature did, but the latest developer build of Chrome OS 85 changes that, as Chrome Unboxed reports. When you activate the corresponding flag in that channel, you'll see a clock and a weather widget in the bottom left corner, just like you would on a Chromecast. It's still work in progress, though.

At the moment, Ambient Mode is only accessible via the chrome://flags/#enable-ambient-mode flag. When you activate it, you'll see an Ambient Mode section in settings where you can choose to enable or disable the lockscreen customization and select what to see on your screen: Images from your Photos library or Google's art gallery. Other options aren't available yet.

A few Ambient Mode things are still unfinished on Chrome OS 85. As you can see in the screenshot at the top of the article, the clock and the weather widget overlap with the Shut down and Sign out options. There's also no way to switch between C° and F° yet. Ambient Mode wouldn't always properly load for me, either — I'd only see the clock and a black background, sometimes accompanied by the password/PIN prompt, as you can see below. The Google Photos option wouldn't work for me at all.

The interface is still a work in progress, and sometimes, only the clock would show up for me.

I can imagine that in the future, we'll see more interaction options on the lockscreen so you can use your plugged in Chromebook as a Nest Hub alternative — I'd love to see Assistant and notification support.

If you're eager to see the half-functional Ambient Mode changes for yourself before Chrome OS 85 goes stable in August, you have to switch to the Chrome OS developer channel. You can do so via Settings -> About Chrome OS -> Additional details -> Change channel. That's the most unstable version of the OS, though — a Chromebook our team member Corbin switched to the developer channel was soft-bricked in the process, so be warned.