The virtual keyboard on Chrome OS has been a sore point for many Chromebook tablet owners. Ranging from unreliable autocorrect to buggy input, the typing experience on it is still pretty lackluster to this day. Last year, it did at least receive improved handwriting recognition, a major UI facelift, and an option to change its size. Now, Google is getting ready to integrate one of our favorite Chrome OS 89 features.
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.
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.
Live Caption was one of the highlight feature of Android 10 when Google unveiled it at Google I/O 2019. Its ability to generate accurate real-time captions regardless of audio source continues to blow us away — and it works offline, too. Google's Pixel phones were the first to get it, then it followed by expansion to other Android smartphones. Google announced yesterday that Live Caption is available to everyone using Chrome, and with some digging in the Chromium Gerrit, it looks like Chromebooks won't have to wait much longer to get it.
The camera app on Chrome OS has remained largely unchanged since Google first brought Chromebooks to the market in 2011. Although handy in a pinch, its stagnant development is obvious by the lack of useful features. It received video recording only three years ago and recently got a native QR code scanner. While it has improved over the years, its implementation feels too basic to be especially practical. That may soon change, as Google is working to deliver advanced controls to the camera app on Chrome OS.
USB has come a long way since Apple made the I/O mainstream with its iMac in September 1998. The technology rapidly replaced a wide range of aging connectors on PCs and became the universal standard for wired data and power transfers. With USB4's versatility opening the door to broad external PCI adoption, Google is working to protect your Chromebook from unauthorized access to your data.
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.
QR codes may have been around since the mid-1990s, but they have become more popular than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic—you'll find them on mobile orders, Instagram, and even in Android's Wi-Fi settings. While those boxy, square designs may seem like gibberish at a glance, they offer a wide range of contactless convenience in our socially distant times. With this in mind, it was only a matter of time until compatible scanners started appearing on other platforms, including Chrome OS.
The Gallery app on Chrome OS is one of the few native apps that has stuck around since Google launched the operating system nearly a decade ago. Much like the file manager, its existence felt like an afterthought, collecting dust as the company continued to roll out OS updates. Although it received a significant visual overhaul and a name change to "Media app" in 2020, it still lacks essential photo editing capabilities. However, that's changing soon, as Google is experimenting with three new features that will really add some value.
Android apps have had a rough history on Chromebooks ever since Google brought them to Chrome OS in 2016. From a lackluster app ecosystem to nasty bugs like the app scaling issue that nearly made it into Chrome OS 86 Stable, Google has attempted to create a compelling Android app experience for users to enjoy, but with little luck. With Chrome OS 87 due in a few more days, Google's operating system finds itself in another predicament that makes the typing experience in Android apps incredibly frustrating.