Let's be honest with ourselves: push notifications suck. It's incredibly annoying when you are spammed information that isn't relevant to you. As irritating as it is, notifications are fundamental to a product's usability and necessary for a good user experience (when done right). To increase engagement, designers came up with notification badges, a subtle way to hint that something is waiting inside the app. Google eventually adopted this concept with Android Oreo using notification dots, and it looks like Google wants to bring notification dots to apps on your Chromebook as well.
Are you tired of hunting for your files? Let's be honest: diving deep into a labyrinth of folders to find essential files is super frustrating. Using the files manager's search function is cumbersome, and, if you're like me, you're probably annoyed how much valuable time is wasted clicking and searching. The developers at Google realized that people care about getting their tasks done efficiently, so they tackled the clicking problem head-on to see if they could limit the number of clicks people make to get to their important files. We finally have an early preview of their solution.
Xbox Game Streaming officially launched yesterday, allowing you to stream nearly 200 Xbox games to your Android phone or tablet. The service has yet to launch on any other platforms, and Microsoft is sticking hard to the mobile requirement — despite their ability to run Android apps, both Chromebooks and Android TV are unsupported.
Nvidia's GeForce Now started with the promise of running all your existing PC games in the cloud, but game studios started pullinggames shortly after the service's launch. GeForce Now is slowly addressing complaints from both customers and developers, and one major criticism — finding out which of your Steam games work on GeForce Now — is now much less of a pain.
If you're the type of person who keeps way too many tabs open across multiple browser windows — looking at you, Ryne Hager — a tab search feature would no doubt come in handy. Thankfully, that's exactly what Google has been working on. A functional version of the feature can be found in the latest Chrome OS 86 dev channel build, which suggests it'll be present in the next stable update.
Google is working on a Phone Hub similar to Microsoft Your Phone that will make your handset interact better with your Chromebook, but the company isn't ready to bring the feature to stable just yet. In the latest release of Chrome OS, version 85, the company instead focuses on many little things that make for an overall better experience: Wi-Fi password sync, improved settings search, and a volume slider for your microphone.
GeForce Now, Nvidia's PC-based cloud gaming platform, is available in beta on Chromebooks beginning today. The service was already playable on PC, Mac, and Android — but Chrome OS, an environment known for both low-power hardware and a lack of high-end games, had previously been a particularly glaring omission. Now, practically any old Chrome laptop can fire up some of the most demanding games out there (provided it's got a strong internet connection).
There's a lot that Spotify can improve in its app's experience, but the most glaring issue for anyone using a larger-screened Android device was the lack of any interface optimization. The phone UI simply stretched to fill the screen, with tiny touch targets and no special consideration given to the larger screen estate. That's changed now as Spotify began rolling out a new tablet-optimized design on Android.