Category: Chrome OS

Android Compatible Chrome OS Device List Updated

The Chromium team within Google has updated the list of Chrome OS devices that can or will have support for Android apps.  The update is a significant improvement over the laundry list of devices that they had released last year as this update now lists the devices that have the ability to run Android apps, in which channel, and which ones have support planned.  Right now, the list of devices that support apps in the Stable channel (the main production channel) is pretty limited.  That list is:

  • Acer Chromebook R11  (CB5-132T and C738T)
  • AOpen Chromebox Mini
  • AOpen Chromebase Mini
  • Chromebook Flip C100PA
  • Google Pixel (2015)
  • Samsung Chromebook Plus

The list of Chrome OS devices that support Android apps in the Beta channel are even fewer:

  • Acer Chromebook R13 (CB5-312T)
  • Asus Chromebook Flip C302

It isn’t hard to figure out that the vast majority of devices out there are still listed as Planned.

Chrome OS Receives an Incremental Security Update

A small but important incremental update to Chrome OS has been released by the Chromium team for a wide range of devices.  The update is build 57.0.2987.146 (Platform version: 9202.64.0) and it has been released for the same set of devices of the last update to the platform back on March 30th.  The devices that won’t see this update are as follows:  AOpen Chromebase Mini, AOpen Chromebox Mini, Google Chromebook Pixel (2015), ASUS Chromebook Flip C100PA, Samsung Chromebook Plus, Acer Chromebook R11 (CB5-132T / C738T) and HP Chromebook 14.

The update addresses a handful security bugs in the platform and other performance updates.  The exact details of what is fixed or addressed in this update has not been released by Google yet.  This is a common practice by the Chrome OS team until a majority of eligible devices have been updated.  They don’t want to have devices exploited in the interim.

Chrome OS Update Brings a Handful of Security Fixes

A small but important security update is rolling out to Chrome OS devices this morning that brings a handful of high priority security updates to the platform.  The new build is 57.0.2987.137 (Platform version: 9202.60.0) and it is for the vast majority of devices out there.  The only devices you won’t find it for is the AOpen Chromebase Mini, AOpen Chromebox Mini, Google Chromebook Pixel (2015), ASUS Chromebook Flip C100PA, Samsung Chromebook Plus.  If you have one of these devices, this update won’t be coming to you, at least not yet.

Unlike the last Stable channel update to the platform, this update is purely focused on security updates.  The Chromium team called out five specific issues that the build resolves in their release notes.  If you have a Chrome OS device, you will want to get this update ASAP.

Chrome OS Update Brings Big Changes to The Platform

The Chromium team within Google has released Chrome OS Build 57 to the stable channel, bringing a significant number of changes and improvements to the platform.  The new build is 57.0.2987.123 (Platform version: 9202.56.1) and it is available on a wide range of devices running the Operating System.  There are some exceptions however including the AOpen Chromebase Mini, AOpen Chromebox Mini, Google Chromebook Pixel (2015), ASUS Chromebook Flip C302,  ASUS Chromebook Flip C100PA, Samsung Chromebook Plus,  and the Acer Chromebook R13 (CB5 – 312T).  Other devices will have the update pushed to it or you can manually check for the update now.  My Acer Chromebook 14 has already received the update.

There are a lot of changes happening in this update including an updated default wallpaper and an update boot animation from a visual perspective.  Media files from Android apps are now available in the Files application on your Chromebook, making it easier to get to them and share them.  PIN unlocking is also available now for all Chromebooks.

Today’s Deal – Acer Chromebook 14 Down to $270

Today over at Amazon you can pick up a great deal on the Acer Chromebook 14.  Right now this all aluminum chassis Chromebook is available with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage for $270.  That price is good on either the aluminum or the gold aluminum finish and is eligible for Prime shipping for members.

This Acer Chromebook is powered by a Intel Celeron N3160 processor running at 1.6GHz and the display renders at 1920 x 1080 full HD.  As mentioned already, it has 4GB of RAM which is really handy on a Chromebook and has 32GB of storage for those things (like Android apps) that you need to store locally.  It also has a built-in battery that is rated to give 12 hours of life between charges.  Overall it is a great package and one of the higher rated Chromebooks out there right now.

Today’s Deal – Samsung Chromebook Plus Down to $420 at Amazon

Another deal today is on the all new Samsung Chromebook Plus.  The 12.3″ convertible normally sells for $450 but is down to $420 right now on Amazon.  That will get you one of the latest Chromebooks available and it will run Android apps natively right out of the box.

The Chromebook Plus has a 12.3″ display rendering at 2400 x 1600.  It is also a touchscreen which makes using the included stylus or your finger for apps easier.  It has 4GB of RAM, 32GB of Storage and you can expand that storage thanks to the MicroSD slot.  It has dual-microphones, a 720p Webcam and, of course, Wi-Fi.  It only ways 2.4 lbs so it is designed for portability and with it being able to be be used as a laptop or a slate, you have a lot of flexibility in where and how you use this Chromebook.

Android Nougat Coming to Chrome OS 58 or 59

While the ability to run Android apps on Chrome OS continues to roll out, the question for many is when or if it will be updated.  The answer is yes and pretty soon.  This week while attending Google Cloud Next in San Francisco, I posed the question to Chrome OS product management in a breakout session and it was confirmed that Android Nougat will be coming to the platform build 58 or 59.  Given that it is already in the beta channel, I suspect that it is likely 58.

As readers may know, Android Framework in Chrome OS currently is based on Android Marshmallow.  So, in theory, if an app will run in Marshmallow, it will run on Chrome.  The tricky bit has been that some apps can’t go full screen in 6.0 and features like multi-window support for apps is not something that is supported at all in Marshmallow.  All of that changes under 7.0 obviously as the framework allows for it.

Google Extends Auto-Update Policy on Chromebooks to Over 6 Years

Good news for those of you who have older Chromebooks.  Google has updated their auto-update policy and have added a full 18 months of support for devices.  The change comes as part of a general overhaul of what use to be called the End of Life policy on Chrome OS.  Along with the name change, and given the significant number of Chrome OS devices in the education sector, Google has extended the time in which a device will receive updates.  Up until this change over the weekend, devices would receive updates for five years.  Now that has been extended another 18 months to 6-and-a-half-years.  Given the lightweight design and somewhat “cookie cutter” layout of Chrome OS, this makes a lot of sense and, frankly, is easier for Google do with this platform than it is for Microsoft with Windows as a comparative example.

In real terms, this is a big deal.  If you have an Acer Chromebook 14 like me, support for that Chromebook now extends to March 2021.  While as a tech user I will undoubtedly update my Chromebook to something else before 2021, it is good news for organizations who have a lot of a particular device.  They can now plan on when they need to start doing technology refreshes.

Chrome OS Continues to Make Gains in US Education Sector

Futuresource Consulting has released their annual report on mobile PCs in the education sector, noted as K-12 here in the United States.  Overall, shipments grew 18% in 2016 over the previous year with Chrome OS taking 58% of the market share in the sector.  That marks an 8% increase from 2015 and further establishes its stronghold in the sector.

The strong combination of affordable devices, productivity tools via G-Suite, easy integration with third party platforms/tools, task management/distribution via Google Classroom and easy device management remains extremely popular with US teachers and IT buyers alike. The rise of Chromebooks has also set new industry benchmarks with regards to average device pricing, with prices reaching as low as $120 on certain projects.

The report indicates that the brunt of the gains by Chrome OS were at the cost of Apple technologies.  MacOS in the education sector dropped 1% year-over-year while iOS took a 5% hit.  Microsoft Windows remained at 22% market share.

Google Pixel Chromebook is Dead? Not So Fast Says Google

Yesterday, from a wide range of sources, it was reported that Google has no plans of ever making a Pixel Chromebook follow up.  This lead to a lot of consternation as the Pixel lineup, while having a hefty price tag, were the premium Chrome OS experience.

Well, not so fast.  Google’s Rick Osterloh took to Twitter today and laid out that the Pixel Chromebook isn’t dead at all.  It is just that there is nothing to report on it.

Now for those who don’t know who Mr. Osterloh is with Google, he is certainly a voice of authority on this topic.  He is the Senior Vice President of Hardware at Google.  Yeah, he might know a thing or two.

Update – How To Enable Material Design Extension Page in Chrome OS

Material Design elements are making their way into Chrome OS at a snail’s pace. But, when you find something that can be setup in this new, sleek look, it’s kinda fun.  The latest, at least as far as I can tell, is in Chrome 56 which allows you to enable the look on your Extension page. I’ll preface this with two points:  First, I do not recall seeing this setting in Chrome OS 55 or earlier in the Stable channel.  It has been in the beta and canary channel.  Second, I’m assuming, but not sure, that this is in the Chrome browser as well.  I use a Chromebook so I can’t verify.  If you can verify this flag works in the Chrome browser, let me know and I will update this post with proper credit of course.   Thanks to John Borgen for confirming that this feature is indeed in the latest build of Chrome browser!

The new Material Design extensions page is not enabled by default but it can easily be set with a flag inside of Chrome.  That new flag is chrome://flags/#enable-md-extensions or you can just go chrome://flags and search Material Design and find it there (and a lot of other things that can get an MD make over.

What is Smart Lock and How To Enable It on Your Chromebook

One of the great features of Chrome OS is one that few people actually use.  It’s called Smart Lock and while technically still a beta feature in the Stable channel of Chrome, it is a quick and easy way to unlock your Chromebook using your Android phone.  No longer do you have to type in your password on your Chromebook but rather, can simply walk into the room with your unlocked Android phone or click your account photo on your Chromebook to unlock it.  Setting it up is pretty easy and it can save you some time, especially if you have your phone setup as a Trusted Agent.

First, what is Smart Lock?  As the name suggests, it is a way to quickly and easily unlock your Chrome OS device by using your Android phone.  To do this, your phone and your Chromebook have to be linked and trusted with each other which is a quick five minute process.  It is a feature that has been in the Settings of Chrome OS since last year and requires that your phone be within 100 feet of your Chromebook to work.  In this How To, I’ll show you how to set it up and use it.