Network administration is one of those annoying realities of using so many connected devices, and while there are plenty of tools that can help streamline things, sometimes it feels like Chromebooks are doing everything they can to make the task more difficult. Right now, it's a hassle to even identify your Chromebook on your local network because Chrome OS doesn't broadcast your device's hostname — a unique label that helps it stand out. As a result, diagnosing even simple wireless issues is more painful than it needs to be, forcing you to deal with cumbersome IP addresses. Thankfully, you won't have to wait much longer before you can assign your Chromebook a convenient, easy-to-recognize hostname of its own.
It's been almost a year since Google started working on giving Chrome OS some darker hues. Despite dark mode's long development time, it still looks pretty unfinished today (even in Canary), and we'll probably be waiting for some time before Google officially launches it. With the highly requested feature slowly trekking its way towards the finish line, Google has been steadily rolling out updates that introduce new sprinkles of dark theme goodies, like dynamic theme switching and scheduled dark mode. And now, Google Assistant is raring to embrace its new goth makeover.
There's no question that Chrome OS does (mostly) everything these days, from productivity to entertainment. One of several aspects we've grown to love is its focus on usability, and we think Tote (formally Holding Space) is a brilliant feature that can take your productivity to the next level. Google is planning on supercharging Tote even further with a fresh update we're sure most would find handy.
Most of us probably feel overwhelmed by the endless slew of browser tabs and and all the software windows cluttering up our PCs. Thanks to virtual desktops for Chromebooks, managing your tasks is way easier: you can create a workspace for each of your classes, or have a dedicated desk for gaming. Your organization possibilities are virtually endless — yet very few users take full advantage of this feature. It seems Google really wants you to realize how useful it is, as it's experimenting with putting virtual desks front-and-center to the Chrome OS experience.
It's been several months since Google announced its new name for the Launcher — or Search key — on Chromebooks, rebranding it to the Everything Button. For those unfamiliar, this button replaces the Caps lock key found on traditional keyboards — tapping it will open the app drawer instead. A Googler writes that the key enables you to search for apps, find files, search online, and more, all in one place. It looks like the company is doubling down on the "Everything" moniker, as it's about to remap a handful of system shortcuts to it.
Digital privacy has long been a major concern for many, and one brought to the forefront when a global pandemic forced millions to shift their lives online. With ISPs and advertisers taking advantage of the work-from-home lifestyle, protecting yourself with a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a great solution for keeping prying eyes off your data. It may be easy to set up a VPN on your Chromebook, but it can be a hassle to turn it on again after a reboot. You may not have to wait long, though, as an upcoming change will keep your VPN engaged all the time.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) have seen tremendous growth over the years thanks to the rapid adoption of modern web APIs. Combined with enhanced capabilities and improved reliability, PWAs are closer than ever to delivering app-like experiences on the web. Microsoft and Google improved upon this even further last year with app shortcuts, offering quick access to a handful of tasks for PWAs. The feature became available for Chrome and Edge last year, but it lacked support for Chrome OS. It looks like this is about to change.
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.
Although it still doesn't work yet, settings controlling the long-rumored Ambient Mode for Chromebooks have appeared in the current Chrome OS Canary channel. Controlled by an easily enabled flag, the new options appear in Chrome OS's Personalization menu. At least two different modes are planned: Google Photos and an art gallery.