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Chrome OS 66 update rolling out to stable channel, with extended Magic Tether support, external display enhancements, and more

The latest update to Google's browser-based operating system is with us, and it comes with a raft of small improvements. As is usually the case with major Chrome OS releases, the update to version 66.0.3359.137 is more about bug fixes and security patches than it is about headlining new features, but there is a lengthy changelog to pour over nonetheless.

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How to disable the crappy new Chrome OS keyboard shortcut viewer

Chrome OS is undergoing aesthetic and functional shifts as its design philosophy changes to more closely resemble Android's. Some tweaks, like the OS's handy and intuitive visual keyboard shortcut viewer being replaced by the above mess, have been pretty universally panned. Thankfully, there's a Chrome flag to revert the viewer to its previous (superior) state.

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The default Chrome OS camera app now supports video recording

Chromebooks are mostly inexpensive devices, and as such we don't expect many of them to be able to do fancy things. They do tend to have cameras, though — they'd be pretty useless for video calling if they didn't. Every Chromebook comes with a rudimentary web app for the camera, similar to what you might see on Windows or MacOS machines.

Until now, the Chrome OS camera app has only been able to take photos, which is about as basic as it gets. The latest version (5.0.0) finally adds video recording. Open the app and you'll now see a video option next to the capture button.

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Chrome OS beta channel adds inline replies for Android app message notifications

Android has had a direct reply feature since 7.0 Nougat, which lets you respond to messages right from the notification shade. It works on various messaging apps, including several of the many Google chat apps (such as Hangouts and Android Messages). Since a number of Chromebooks now support Android apps downloaded from the Play Store, it stands to reason that this feature should also work on Chrome OS. And now it does, according to François Beaufort of Google's Chrome team.

Inline message replies for select Android apps are now live in the Chrome OS beta channel and they seem to work in much the same way as their Android counterparts.

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[Update: Now available] Lenovo announces three new education-focused Chromebooks

Chromebooks don't have as much power as the average Windows laptop, but they don't need it. These devices can do everything most computer users need and then some. The lower price point is nice, too. Lenovo's latest Chromebooks run the gamut from mid-range to bargain-basement, and all of them have a focus on education.

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Google releases optional security update for Chromebooks, but it wipes all local data

Chrome OS is one of the most secure desktop operating systems on the market (privacy concerns about the Google ecosystem aside). Automatic system updates, verified boot, and system drive encryption all keep your Chromebook safe from attacks. Most models also use a Trusted Platform Module, or TPM, for generating the cryptographic keys that protect local data.

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More Chromebooks may get Google Assistant in the near future

One of the highlighting features of the Google Pixelbook at launch was the native integration of Assistant in the OS itself. It can be activated by either using the "Ok, Google" hotword like normal or via the dedicated Assistant key near the spacebar. But according to XDA, who have been playing around in the Chromium Gerrit, Assistant might be coming to other Chromebooks in the near future.

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[Deal Alert] Get a $50 Amazon gift card when you buy a Chromebook before Christmas

Amazon is making the holiday season all the merrier by offering customers a $50 Amazon gift card with the purchase of select Chromebook hardware. Google's take on the future of portable computing, Chromebooks run the search giant's Chrome OS, a streamlined operating system built entirely around Google's ecosystem of apps and productivity software.

When you consider how affordable the bulk of Chromebooks are to begin with, this Amazon deal is certainly hard to ignore. It would be easy to assume that a "cheap laptop" equates to dismal performance, but several models offered as part of this deal come close to hitting the sweet spot between price, power, and features.

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Microsoft Office Android apps now available on all Chromebooks

For years, one of the most common complaints about Chromebooks was that they couldn't run the Office suite of applications. Microsoft has offered Android apps for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for a few years now, but they weren't made available to all Chromebooks for some reason.

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Chrome OS Canary channel now has keyboard shortcuts for moving windows between monitors

One of the most popular arguments against Chromebooks is a criticism against productivity. Many argue that the operating system precludes a reasonable workflow, and in some cases that's true. If you absolutely require specific applications, you're unarguably stuck on whatever platform those programs support. But if you can find sites or Android apps that can replace the tools you need, now juggling those windows in a multi-monitor workflow will be that much easier, as the current Canary channel now has support for keyboard shortcuts to move windows between monitors. 

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