Chrome OS Updates for 2022
One of the biggest trends in tech right now is the Google Chromebook. With over 100 million units of this product sold to students and educators alone, the streamlined and efficient device boomed in popularity over the past year due to the pandemic.
But these laptops aren‘t just for school. They are embraced by many work-at-home adults, too, who love the simplified interface of the Chrome OS and the integration with top Google apps.
Here’s what Chromebook owners can expect in this latest round of Chrome OS updates, which are designed to make your favorite tools even faster and more intuitive than ever. Want to know what a Chromebook can do for you? Read these articles for more: 10 Surprising Things You Can Do with a Chromebook and What is a Chromebook?
What is Chrome OS?
Chrome OS is the operating system designed by Google to specifically run their Chromebook computers. First developed in 2011, the platform was created as an alternative to what they considered the “slow boot times, clunky hardware, and intrusive updates” of pre-internet PCs. Google’s goal was to bring about a seamless computing experience that used online apps to get more done.
The invention of the Chrome operating system made the process of updating your laptop automatic. The OS is designed to self-update in the background without stopping you from what you’re doing.
Chrome's 10th-anniversary update
What's the big deal about 2021, you ask? With 10 years behind Google's Chromebook experiment, it's easy to see they've accomplished quite a bit. From the release of the first touch screen Chromebook (the Pixel) in 2013 to an expansion into USB-C charging and data sharing in 2015, Google keeps innovating, building new and exciting features into each version of ChromeOS.
As the Chromebook Education category expanded, the brand became synonymous with the idea of school laptops. In fact, when the announcements were made in 2020 that many schools were moving to remote classrooms, the first question many parents asked was, "Where is our Chromebook?"
What will the next 10 years offer? While Google has only provided clues about the future, such as using AI, increasing device collaboration, and integrating cellular connectivity, the rest is anybody’s best guess.
Best new Google Chrome OS updates
When you update your Google Chromebook in 2021, you have plenty of new features to look forward to. Here are some of the best.
1. Phone hub
If your phone is charging in the other room or you don't happen to remember where it is at the moment, you won't be without it long thanks to the Phone Hub. It connects to your Android phone as long as both use the same Google ID. You'll also get a notification on your laptop for any texts you receive, so you can read them and respond right from your computer.
Other neat features include the ability to check your phone’s location, cell signal, and battery life, as well as turn on your phone’s hotspot capabilities. If you want to finish using the same tabs you were using on your phone, you can pull them up on your Chromebook for continued browsing.
2. Improved WiFi sync
Getting on to the local wireless network can be a real hassle, depending on the type of signal and the network gateway. Chromebook’s upgraded WiFi Sync helps smooth out the bumps by allowing you to automatically connect to the same WiFi networks you’ve already marked as trusted from your phone. This same perk works with other connected Chrome OS devices, too. If you’re logged in and have the sync feature activated, your account will remember which networks are approved for use without prompting you.
3. Screen capture in Tote
As an alternative to the print screen hotkey shortcut, Google launched the new Screen Capture tool. This feature is found in the Quick Settings menu, and it snags a screenshot from your computer and puts it into a library called "Tote." Tote in itself is a notable new feature, as it puts your latest screenshots, files, and downloads in an easy-to-access location.
4. Media controls
While you’re in Quick Settings, check out the updated media controls. These give you an easy way to turn up the volume on the YouTube video you’re watching or even mute that loud media pop-up that appeared in your scan of the local news. It works for Android apps, too.
5. Easy school account creation
Given that Chromebooks are used so frequently in education settings, it makes sense that one of the most asked-for features is related to children and family accounts. According to Google, those using a Chromebook for the first time can initially log on with their child’s account and add a school from the get-go. This is all done through the Family Link tool, which also lets children add educational apps.
If a student wants to add Google Classroom, for example, the parent can oversee it all. Parents should also consider creating a memorable PIN that both the parent and child can remember to make logging into the school Chromebook a simple – and secure! – task.
Chromebook will keep the last 5 items you copied for easy retrieval, thanks to the powered-up version of their Clipboard tool. A simple Everything Button + V key combo will prompt this Clipboard to appear so you can easily access what you want without flipping between tabs or programs.
7. Easy answers
Not sure what a word means or need help with translating something into another language? The Quick Answers tool is a lifesaver. Right-click on any word to get Google’s help. You won’t have to open up an internet tab or visit Google’s homepage for assistance.
8. Uninterrupted desks on reboot
Desks are an essential component of the Google Chromebook OS, and it’s hard to believe that they could make it better. With this latest revamp, however, the Desks tool remembers what it looked like before you restart. After booting back up, you’ll see everything as you last saw it. From windows to apps, they’ll be right where they were.
Additional features include the ability to right-click on the top of any window to direct it to a desk, plus a swiping tool that uses four fingers to flick a desk out of the way. It’s just another way Google is maximizing its touch screen capabilities, but this upgrade may be one of the most productive.
Upgrades to existing Chrome OS features
All of these new features seem like enough to celebrate, and it’s amazing what Google has packed into this latest update. They’ve done a little maintenance on some favorite features of ours, too. See what they’ve planned for important existing features.
9. Easier sharing
Click “share” when using any Google-supported app or website in the Chrome browser, and you’ll see a menu of places you can send the content. These available destinations include social media accounts, your Word app, and more. This works much like we use apps from our phones already and is a welcome addition to the Chromebook features family.
Part of Google's commitment to accessibility is demonstrated nicely in their Select-to-speak utility. If you already use it, you know that it can help sound out difficult text by audibly reading it aloud. Did you know that this latest update to Chrome OS gives you more control over how the text is read? Skip over the text you don't want to read or fast-forward to the parts you want. There's a helpful pause feature in the latest version, too.
11. Improved look of apps
While not really made to boost your productivity or help you "hack" your school day, the most obvious upgrades are aesthetic ones. If you give your apps a quick glance, you can see right away that they received a facelift.
The new, modern look is consistent with some of the design upgrades Google has been doing, and these refreshed apps are a nice touch. They may also help you differentiate between some apps that looked overly similar before, which could help you shave a few seconds off your search for the elusive Explore button.
Google's not quite done yet, even with all of these notable improvements. They have announced that Nearby Share features are coming soon, with the possibility of sending files from your Chromebook to your connected Android devices and other Chrome OS products. This instant file transfer option happens securely, so you won't have to share your contact info to get the job done.
How to update Chromebook
Do all of these changes sound exciting, but you’re not sure how to update the OS on Chromebook? Well, chances are you need not worry. Google's Chrome OS is designed to update automatically. If you're connected to the internet, you should be ready to enjoy all that your Chromebook has to offer in its latest round of refreshing revisions.
HP has been excited to partner with Google in making the Chromebook solution available to students and business professionals everywhere. Here’s to another great decade of updates and features.
About the Author: Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.