Linux for Chromebooks has come a long way since Google introduced it in Chrome OS 69 a couple of years ago. On supported devices, it opened the door to an extensive library of desktop apps for users, like video editing tools and IDEs. GPU acceleration was an important milestone that made graphic intensive Linux app usable on Chrome OS. This is thanks to Virgil 3D, a component that allows the Linux container to tap into the hardware's GPU. In exciting news shared by Luke Short from VMware, Google is working on adding Vulkan passthrough into Virgil to improve app performance.
It's no secret that emoji play an integral part in today's daily communication. From a user experience point of view, emoji pictographs make up a universally recognized language that adds emotional nuance to conversations. They've been integrated throughout our digital lives, and in 2018, Chrome gained a shortcut to quickly insert them on the desktop. It poses a problem for Chrome OS users, though — clicking on the context menu launches the on-screen keyboard, which is clunky and unintuitive with a mouse. However, that's changing soon as Google is working on a dedicated emoji picker for Chrome OS.
Last year, Google introduced new media playback controls for Chrome and Chrome OS, helping you control music or videos playing in the background without opening the respective window or tab. While the feature is already incredibly useful in its current form, Google is looking to make it even better by adding a scrubbing bar and a background matching the album cover or thumbnail.
I've been using a Chromebook as my sole productivity machine for about a month now after introducing Chrome OS to my workflow over a year ago. While I've been surprisingly happy with the experience, it took me ages to find the perfect PDF reader to replace the excellent PDF Expert app on macOS. I ended up testing quite a few tools and created a fine selection of solutions that might help you find your preferred workflow for your PDF needs, too.
I personally need a PDF reader to annotate film and TV scripts mostly, but your workflow might differ from mine.
Chrome OS devices also run Android, or at least a big enough chunk of Android's base to get apps running alongside Chrome's browser tabs. But you might not have given much thought to exactly what version of Android your Chromebook uses. After all, it's not immediately relevant for most of a Chrome OS device's functions: that's handled by the larger Chrome OS, which is frequently updated by Google along with the browser.
Google's Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) is a part of its Privacy Sandbox, a new suite of tools aiming to replace and improve upon the conventional third-party cookie tracking that enables modern advertising on the web. The company has been working on it for more than a year, and this week it's set to start using the system on a small portion of Chrome users in the United States and other countries.
Chromebooks have an incredibly barebones video player interface that hasn't changed much over the years. It looks like Google finally wants to change that. The company is testing a much prettier video player in Canary, complete with enhanced, floating controls.
The distinctive blue, red, yellow, and green light bar on the Google-branded Chromebook Pixel laptop and Pixel C tablet was a delightful bit of subtle branding, and it's a shame we haven't seen it on subsequent models like the Pixelbook. But according to a snippet of code spotted in the Chrome repository, it might be coming back on a future Chromebook machine from Lenovo.
Chrome OS is a relatively secure OS, which is one major reason why more businesses are opting for laptops running it. However, a new bug has been spotted that could reveal location history to anyone who has physical access to your Chromebook.
If you're using the Canary version of Chrome, you might have noticed the reading list icon hanging out on the right side of the bookmarks bar, just under your profile pic and the main settings button. This is a new feature as of Chrome 89, hidden by default in the standard release but available via a flag, and enabled by default in Chrome 91 Canary. What's also present in that build, and which wasn't before, is the ability to hide it with a quick right-click.