Category: Chromebook

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.

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.

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.

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.

Review – Noreve Griffe Laptop Case – Elegance, Style and Protection for Your Laptop

When it comes to laptop sleeves and cases, there are plenty to chose from that give you protection.  But many of them lack in overall quality and style.  Afterall, if you are going to be carrying such a case into a meeting, you want it to look the part, not just be utilitarian.  That’s where Noreve Griffe 2 laptop case becomes the case of choice.

Noreve is based in Saint-Tropez, France and makes hand crafted cases for a wide range of devices as well as travel and office accessories.  All of their products are created out of exceptionally high quality leathers, assembled and stitched by hand and are some of the most luxurious cases you can find.  I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing several of the couture cases over the years, most recently the Ambition Folio cases for the Nexus 6P and Nexus 9 (which are available for other devices).  This, however, is the first time that Noreve has sent me a laptop case to review and it is just as impressive and stylish as their mobile device cases.  No matter what you carry for a laptop – Windows PC, MacBook Pro or Chromebook – the Griffe 2 case will provide great protection and look good doing it.

Opinion – Chrome OS Could Kill The Android Tablet in 2017

As 2017 gets started, one thing has become abundantly clear to me:  The days of the Android tablet form factor are numbered.  Its not that the Android experience on tablets will kill them – which is pretty poor to be fair – but rather the flood of Chromebooks and other Chrome OS devices that are set to hit the market this year.  2017 will be the year that Chrome OS takes off for good with a wide range of form factors expected to be release and the much anticipated support of Android apps on the platform in Chrome 56.  The latter is due within days and the former, with the likes of Samsung’s new Chromebooks, will set the stage for a transformative year.

The push for the tablet form factor came fundamentally from Apple.  With the launch of the iPad, it suddenly became a tool by which you could get more things done on a larger screen.  Add to that portability and a lower cost, generally, than a laptop and you set the stage for a form factor that seemingly many wanted.  But for all the might of Apple, the iPad has never really taken hold.  Samsung, HTC and Google themselves have had the same struggles.  They brought the conveniences of a mobile Operating System and the associated apps but equally, they brought limitations that users did not experience on laptops.  It was, as if, they were a stop-gap measure until a proper merger of a desktop OS and a mobile OS could take place.

That merger is happening now with Chrome OS and Android.

Android apps running in Chrome will be more than just a stop gap.  You will get the benefits of an app ecosystem along with the power and productivity of a desktop OS.  Is it perfect?  No but it is a far cry better than having two completely desparent solutions to meet your productivity and entertainment needs.

I suspect that my usage of my Nexus 9 Android tablet is similar to many of you.  I like the tablet but 90% of my use of it is for entertainment:  Games, movie watching and social networking.  Rarely do I use it for productivity, even with the solid Google productivity apps like Docs, Sheets and Slides.  The only time I really use it for productivity is when I’m on an airplane, in coach, crammed into a little seat with little room to pull out a 14″ Chromebook to work.  If I’m in business class or First class, the Chromebook is always the weapon of choice to get things done.  So the question becomes, if I had my entertainment on a slate or convertible Chrome OS-based device, would I need a tablet?  The answer, in my mind, is a resounding no.

Review – Acer Chromebook 14 CB3 – An All Around Fantastic Chromebook

If there is one mid-range Chromebook that exemplifies how far the platform has come, it could well be the Acer Chromebook 14.  This comfortably priced $286 Chromebook has all of the features you expect from a device running Chrome OS but it has something that so many others lack:  Style and panache.  The all aluminum chassis is beautiful, the Full HD display is easy on the eyes and it has the performance to keep up with your day-to-day tasks.  But the added bonus of this particular Chromebook is that it has the ability to run Android apps and it can do it on the main production line of Chrome OS (the Stable channel).  That makes it one of the best all around Chromebooks out there.

I recently picked up the Acer Chromebook 14 and after using it for several weeks, it is hands down the best Chromebook I’ve used to date.  My reliable and fantastic HP Chromebook 11 G4 has been replaced and without giving away the entire review, I have no hesitation in recommending this offering from Acer.  It is just phenomenal to use day in and day out.  Here is my review.

All Chromebooks Onward Will Work With Android Apps

For a while now, the Chrome OS team has listed the various Chromebooks that support Android apps on the Chrome OS Systems Supporting Android Apps page.  To this point, the page listed the devices that would be seeing Android app support which has been through the developer and beta channels of Chrome OS.  It is expected that the stable channel will see Chrome OS 56 this month and fully launch app support for everyone.

Over the weekend, the support page changed with a clear and important statement regarding future devices.  Any Chromebook from 2017 onward will have Android app support.  While this isn’t entirely unexpected, the news is good for those who are considering a Chromebook and it further solidifies the relationship between Google’s two platforms.  While it appears unlikely we will see a merger of the two, it is clear their handshake relationship is supported and will remain so for the immediate future.

Chrome OS Could Soon Have Model Specific Wallpapers at Launch

An interesting tidbit of code has shown up in the Chromium change log for Chrome OS.  The change outlines that the default wallpaper on a device can be controlled by the master configuration.  In other words, manufactures like Acer, Dell and HP could have specific wallpapers for specific Chrome OS devices.

The ability for an OEM to set a default wallpaper has been in play for some time now.  Both Acer and HP have a custom wallpaper that they have all their Chromebooks show when you first power them on.  Google is incredibly strict with what OEMs can do to the Chrome experience.  To this point, the manufactures had one wallpaper they could add and it was the same on every Chromebook.

Minor Update Comes to Chrome OS

A small security update has been released by the Chrome OS team for all devices running the platform.  The update is 55.0.2883.105 (Platform version: 8872.76.0) for those keeping score at home.  There are not many details in the release notes about the update other than the customary bug and security fixes that come with all updates to the platform.  Still, if you are running a Chromebook or Chromebox, get the update so you have the latest and greatest (and safest) version.

All devices will have the update pushed to them over the course of the next few days but if you want to force the issue now, you can do so by going to chrome://help on your Chromebook and tapping the Check for update button.  This will download the update and after a reboot you will be running the new build.

Chrome OS Update Available for Most Devices

The Chromium team at Google has rolled out a new update to Chrome OS in the Stable channel.  The updated build is 55.0.2883.87 (Platform version: 8872.70.0 or 8872.70.1) and is available now on eligible devices.  The update, however, is not available for the following Chromebooks:

  • HP Chromebook 11 1100-1199 / HP Chromebook 11 G1
  • Samsung Chromebook 2 11″
  • HP Chromebook 14

If you have one of these devices, an update is likely going to be coming your way in a few weeks.

As with all Chrome OS updates, this one includes a number of bug fixes and security improvements but also has a number of new features too.

Chrome OS Update Rolling Out

The Chrome OS team has pushed out a small but important update out for the platform.  Build 54.0.2840.101 (Platform version: 8743.85.0) is available for all devices running the OS and should be hitting your Chromebook or other device over the course of the next few days.  You can, of course, always force the issue by typing in chrome://help in the browser bar and it will automatically go and look for the update for you.

As is very often the case, the Chromium team did not disclose exactly what was addressed or fixed in this update to the platform.  They usually limit the amount of information released to assure that hackers don’t know about it and exploit it until a large swath of devices are updated.  In this case, no information was released.  That either means this was truly a minor update and there was nothing worth mentioning or there was a major flaw and they will be mum about it until updates are complete.  Given that there is no indication further notes will be released later, I tend to think it is the former.