Chrome OS started out as an operating system for people who do everything online, and while Android and Linux app support allow for more offline capabilities, most Chromebooks still aren't equipped with loads of internal storage. That's where SD cards and microSD cards come in — many Chromebooks have dedicated slots you can use to expand your storage. Here's how to set things up if you want to download content from apps like Netflix and Plex to your SD card instead of your internal storage.
When I bought my first Chromebook back in 2020, I imagined a bright future. I specifically wanted a convertible so I could replace my aging third-gen iPad (yes, the one from 2012). And due to Android app support, I thought I would be able to use it as my new media consumption machine. Unfortunately, things turned out to be more complicated, particularly when it comes to video streaming and downloading, and I wish I knew what I was getting myself into beforehand. To spare you the same disappointment, here's what's going on.
The system tray has been an integral aspect of the desktop experience since Windows 95, holding app icons and system information useful to the user. While the Chrome OS tray is tidier than Windows', a few areas are perhaps too simplistic. For years, many Chrome OS users have been requesting the ability to show the date next to the clock. It looks like Google is finally listening to feedback, as new code confirms changes coming to the Chrome OS system tray.
Getting all your devices logged in on a new Wi-Fi network can be a hassle: entering the same password again and again, hoping you don't make any mistakes. Google started experimenting with ways to simplify this process last year when Chrome OS Canary began syncing Wi-Fi passwords with other devices. That feature never rolled out widely, leaving us to wonder if its development had stalled. Thankfully that wasn't the case, and now Google is working on a new and improved Wi-Fi syncing solution for Chrome OS that's actually starting to roll out to the first few people.
Google released the first developer preview of Android 12 yesterday, but the virtual Android environment on Chrome OS is still stuck on Android 9. Google has long been working on updating it to Android 11, though it looks like it's in the process of abandoning this endeavor. Instead, we found evidence that Google might be skipping ahead to version 12 right away.
It's been two years since Google decoupled its Drive and Photos services for a "simplified experience," preventing pictures from syncing to its cloud-based storage. For many, managing images from Google Photos became a lot less streamlined on Chrome OS: you'd have to download your pictures from the Google Photos app to organize them in the file manager. Several users have expressed frustrations about the lacking synergy between Photos and the files app, citing how frustrating it is to import a selection of images to Chrome OS. However, that might be changing soon, as we discovered a pair of work-in-progress commits that hint at deeper Google Photos integration into the file manager.
Google is slowly rolling out Phone Hub to Chrome OS, a new software bridge connecting phones with Chromebooks and making it easier to access recent tabs and starting up a hotspot. But it looks like that's just the beginning. We've been tracking a new software dubbed "Eche SWA," and thanks to additional evidence scooped by 9to5Google, we suspect that you might someday be able to view your phone's screen right on your Chromebook, though it might be limited to Pixel phones.
We've known about Google Chrome's quick page-sharing through dino-themed QR codes since 2019. After an initial release in Canary and more development, the feature first became available in Chrome 84. It's been working properly on both Android and desktops since then, but you had to manually enable the flag to get it going. With Chrome 88, QR codes are starting to roll out widely as part of a server-side change, as reported by SmartDroid.
Chromebooks come with perks, and owners have already been able to get their hands on an extended free YouTube Premium test run, Google One storage, and even GeForce Now Pro. The latest offer to join the list is Tayasui Sketches Pro, a popular Android drawing app. The Pro in-app purchase normally costs $6.49, but Chromebook owners can get it for free for a limited time.
It's been a few months since we covered Google's ambition to bring tighter integration to two of its core hardware products. Dubbed Phone Hub, the feature aims to enhance the relationship between your Android smartphone and Chromebook. Shortly after a visual prototype made its way to the Canary and Dev channels via a Chrome flag, it mysteriously vanished from the system tray and—until recently—has not made a return. While we still don't have a functional version of it today, Phone Hub received many visual and backend updates that give us a glimpse of what Google is cooking up to bring your phone and Chromebook closer together.