Chrome OS 93 arrived for most Chromebooks last week, and it refines the core experience with polish (like adding a stylus battery indicator) to help make your device more enjoyable to use. It's not the most exciting release out-of-the-box, but with a little tweaking on your end, you'll be able to take advantage of some even-more-useful but experimental features that aren't part of the default Chrome OS experience yet. Here are a few of them we've found that will help take your productivity to the next level.
Your Chromebook is no ordinary PC: it's powered by Google's Chrome browser, providing a speedy, simple, and secure online experience. It's precisely this reason that Chrome launches automatically whenever you sign back in — there's no better way to showcase your Chromebook's strength than by putting the browser front and center. However, some people just prefer starting with a blank desktop instead, whether they want to use other apps instead, or for minimalism reasons. With the help of a hidden switch in the newest Chrome OS 92 update, you can stop your Chromebook from opening Chrome when you sign in.
Google Reader used to be thepinnacle of RSS news consumption before it was discontinued in 2013, and many people are still bitter about its demise. While Google probably won't ever properly resurrect the service, it's currently working on the next best thing: An option to follow websites in Chrome, tapping into RSS. You can try it right now in Chrome 92.
Google may have shelved one of the most anticipated Chrome features — Duet — but the company is still working on changing up little bits and pieces to make it easier to navigate the mobile browser. One of the latest experiments has been spotted by 9to5Google, which reports that a new flag moves Google Search into a carousel below the address bar, giving you quick access to other results.
Google has introduced a new take on Material Design during Google I/O this year, Material You. Its highlighting characteristic is its wallpaper-based dynamic colors, making for beautifully composed interfaces. So far, only a handful of apps have been updated to support these themes, but it looks like Google is hard at work updating its first-party applications to take advantage of the new theming mechanisms. Among them is Chrome, which has just received the first few wallpaper-based elements in the latest under-development version, Chrome Canary v93.
An upcoming release of Google Chrome might make adding bookmarks a one-step process again. Google recently introduced a reading list to its browser, so whenever you hit the bookmark button in the address bar, a menu will first ask whether you want to add a bookmark or add the site to your reading list. In Chrome Canary version 93, a flag changes that behavior, as first discovered by Redditor u/Leopeva64-2.
Google regularly introduces new features in Chrome through 'flags,' toggles that are only accessible through the chrome://flags page. Even though the flags page is hidden, Google also sometimes enables experimental features automatically in limited tests, leaving some to wonder what changed. Now it seems Google is working on a more obvious place to try unfinished features.
Drop down menus have been a part of graphical computer interfaces since the beginning, but they aren't particularly easy to interact with on touchscreens. Google is working on getting rid of them with a few measures on Android, such as moving the password autofill dropdown to a bar on top of Gboard. But it looks like the company also wants to further reduce the number of dropdowns you come across when you surf the web in Chrome.
Google is a search company first and foremost, and that shows. Most of its products prominently feature search bars or search buttons, and that's no different for Chromebooks with their own dedicated search key, replacing Caps Lock. The button launches an online and system-wide search for apps, websites, bookmarks, settings entries, and more. It's handy, but it can get pretty overwhelming and chaotic due to all different kinds of entries loped together. Google sure seems to be willing to improve that.
Chromebook keyboards have always been frustrating to use for anyone coming from another platform because quite a few things are switched around. The Caps Lock position is taken over by the Search key (or "Everything button") while there's either no key between Ctrl and Alt or (on Pixelbooks) a Google Assistant shortcut. To make matters worse, Google is looking into changing a few keyboard shortcuts going forward, which probably won't help those of us who just got used to Chrome OS' peculiar shortcuts. Luckily, Google might soon allow you to customize some shortcuts.