Google is working hard to improve Chrome OS with features that make the system simpler to use, with things like better media controls and easier copy and pasting planned for the near future. But the company also wants to make Chromebooks better at things you might not notice right away, especially when you work from home. One of these upcoming improvements is microphone noise cancellation, which could enhance the audio quality of your video conferences drastically — if you have compatible hardware, that is.
A Chromium Gerrit reveals that Google wants to add a flag that checks whether your external headset or microphone supports input noise cancellation, helping suppress background noises as you speak — handy when you're videoconferencing all day. Support is determined by relaying the noise cancellation state to the Chromium OS Audio Server (cras), which detects whether the feature exists on your headset or not.
Add EnableInputNoiseCancellationUi flag
This flag gates whether the input noise cancellation UI toggle will display.
To activate the feature, you'll need to enable the Input Noise Cancellation UI under chrome://flags/#enable-input-noise-cancellation-ui. This will add a quick toggle to the Chrome OS notification shade, allowing you to turn on and off noise cancellation as needed when you use supported hardware. Just keep in mind that the flag isn't available in the stable Chrome OS channel yet — it's still under development.
Unfortunately, this means that noise cancellation could only work with external microphones in the near future — support for Chromebooks' internal microphones is nowhere to be seen. However, with Google working on getting noise canceling working with external mics, we wouldn't be surprised if the company has something like it in the pipeline for internal hardware.
In the meantime, you'll have to make do with the noise cancellation offered by conferencing platforms themselves, like Google Meet.