Today Google is launching Chrome OS 93 to Chromebooks, just a week after it released Chrome 93 to mobile and desktop platforms. Chromebooks have seen wild success over the last couple of years thanks to Chrome OS being reliable, secure, and easy to use, and Chrome OS 93 adds polish here and there to help you enjoy your Chromebook even more. Here are all the important features and tweaks coming with this update.
Chromebooks are no ordinary machines: they're powered by Google's Chrome browser, offering a speedy, simple, and secure web surfing experience. The experience is also a lot more versatile than its "Chrome OS" moniker implies, leveraging a slew of virtualization technologies so you can enjoy using Android and desktop Linux apps on your Chromebook. The added security benefits from virtualization comes at a penalty of less efficiency — Google's implementation is no exception. Thankfully, Google has been working hard to mitigate the performance hit, and in a future update, Android games will start running even more smoothly.
Chromebooks are incredible tools for school and home use, and although they're often thought of as simple machines, they can do a variety of tasks beyond surfing the web. When Google launched Linux support for Chrome OS in 2018, it unlocked access to thousands of desktop applications. While modern Chromebooks have had access to Linux apps for years, capable Skylake-powered systems like the Samsung Chromebook Pro got left in the dust. It seems the wait may finally be over thanks to recent updates — but it may be too late to matter.
Chromebooks have had Linux support for such a long time by now, you'd be forgiven if you forgot that Linux has only ever been in beta testing for all these years. At I/O 2021, Google has announced that that's about to change with the next version of Chrome OS, 91. Linux is finally losing its beta moniker.
Linux for Chromebooks has come a long way since Google introduced it in Chrome OS 69 a couple of years ago. On supported devices, it opened the door to an extensive library of desktop apps for users, like video editing tools and IDEs. GPU acceleration was an important milestone that made graphic intensive Linux app usable on Chrome OS. This is thanks to Virgil 3D, a component that allows the Linux container to tap into the hardware's GPU. In exciting news shared by Luke Short from VMware, Google is working on adding Vulkan passthrough into Virgil to improve app performance.
The great unicorn of software development is to have one language and framework that enables devs to code an app once and run it on any operating system and any type of device. Flutter has been aiming to do this since its inception, and today it gets quite a bit closer to that goal with the announcement of Flutter 2. The latest major update brings major enhancements for mobile platforms, adds support to desktop, and massively extends its capabilities on the web — among other things.
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If you want to do any number of things that require access to Google's Android Debug Bridge (ADB) or fastboot tools for Android — sideload apps, install custom ROMs, take screenshots on certain Android platform versions, or access certain hidden features — you'll need to get it up and running on your platform of choice first. Fortunately, doing so virtually anywhere is possible at this point — even from another Android phone, or a web browser. We'll help you get set up no matter what platform you're on in this guide.
The first production-ready PinePhones became available earlier this year, giving Linux enthusiasts another option for a phone powered by open-source software. Pine64 has released a few different production runs of the PinePhone, each partnered with a differentOS vendor, and a new model running KDE Plasma Mobile will be available next month.
Android and iOS aren't the only mobile operating systems viable today. Last month, Corbin wrote about the PinePhone, a phone that runs Linux and has physical kill switches for privacy-minded people. The PinePhone isn't alone in its use of Linux; Purism's Librem 5 phone runs PureOS, a free, open-source operating system that's not based on Android. But just because phones like the Librem 5 don't run Android natively doesn't mean users have to miss out on the benefits of the Android ecosystem.