Chrome OS Stable Channel Sees A Small Update Arrive

Chrome OS Build 61 App Launcher

A quick heads-up for readers who use Chrome OS.  You have a new update rolling out.  The new build is version 61.0.3163.123 (Platform version: 9765.85.0) and according to the release notes, will be rolling out to a majority of devices starting today.  As always, you can check for the update manually by typing chrome://help in the browser omnibar and tapping the “check for updates” button.

The update does not specifically call out any new features or fixes.  Rather, it is a bug fix and security update for the platform.  Over the past few months it has become common practice for Google to release a major update at the beginning of the month then one of these smaller, fix oriented updates around mid-month.

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Chrome OS Build 61 – Beautiful and Secure

Chrome OS Build 61 App Launcher

Chrome OS has come a long way in 6 years that it has been around.  The platform has infinitely more features and functionality, has a robust ecosystem of extensions and now Android apps, and is no longer a “cheap” OS for “cheap” hardware.  It has grown up, a lot.

But if there is one area that it still has lagged when comparing it to the likes of MacOS or Windows 10, it has been in the User Interface.  Yes it has changed a bit, most notably with the introduction of a task bar in 2012, but fundamentally it has always been a browser-based platform with a clunky but functional UI.  But that changed in a big way this week with the released of Chrome OS build 61.

Build 61 brings the most dramatic changes to the User Interface to date.  It brings an all new app launcher, significantly improved support for Android apps and a much more polished lock screen.  These many not sound like big ticket items but these changes bring the platform as a whole more into the mainstream look of an Operating System and out of the “geeks only” look that the platform has had to this point.  It also points to the never ending work that the Chromium team within Google perform to not only keep it as a secure and reliable OS but also bringing features that users are expecting in a desktop or laptop platform.  With more improvements on the horizon, this new look UI will only improve over the course of 2018.

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Chrome OS Stable Channel Update Brings Several Enhancements

Acer Chromebook 15 2017

The Chrome team has released a major update to Chrome OS into the stable channel.  The update is build 61.0.3163.113 (Platform version: 9765.76.0) and it rolling out to devices today.  Normally on Chrome OS releases, there are a few devices that are left off the update for various reasons – device specific features, already on a different train, etc. – but this release has a pretty extensive list and it contains a lot of popular Chromebooks and Chromeboxes.

If you have one of the devices listed below, the update to the Chrome 61 build will not be available for your device:

  • Acer Chromebase 24
  • Acer Chromebook 11
  • Acer Chromebook 14
  • Acer Chromebook 15
  • Acer Chromebook R13
  • AOpen Chromebox Mini
  • ASUS Chromebook C202SA
  • ASUS Chromebook Flip
  • Chromebook 11
  • Chromebook 14 for work
  • Chromebook Pixel
  • Dell Chromebook 13
  • Dell Chromebook 13
  • HP Chromebook 11 G5
  • HP Chromebook x360
  • Lenovo Flex 11
  • Lenovo N23 Chromebook
  • Lenovo Thinkpad 11e
  • Samsung Chromebook Plus
  • Samsung Chromebook Pro
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2

There is no indication on when this list of device will see this new update but generally it is only a week or two after the initial release.  Let’s hope that is the case because this build has a lot going for it.

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Google Pixelbook Already Available for Pre-Order on Amazon

Google Pixelbook

For you Amazon shoppers who are looking to get your hands on the new Google Pixelbook, you can now pre-order it on the site.  During the presentation on the new Chromebook, Google mentioned that it would be available at retailers like Amazon and Best Buy so it isn’t surprising.  In fact, the listing for the Pixelbook clearly states it is being sold by Google through their Amazon storefront.

Don’t look for any special pricing either.  The i5 equipped Google Pixelbook with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is $999, the same price as it is directly from Google.  And while pre-orders are now available, shipping won’t happen until October 31st, just like the Google Store.

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Google Pixelbook Officially Announced

Google Pixelbook

At the Google event this morning, the all new Google Pixelbook was announced.  The premium Chromebook experience is the first Made By Google Chromebook since 2015 and the specs are pretty amazing.

The new Pixelbook is equipped with an Intel i5 processor or i7 processor and 8GB or 16GB of RAM and has three different storage options:  128GB, 256GB and 512GB.  The display is a 12.3″ with 2400 x 1600 resolution.  That gives it a 3:2 ratio which is what was on previous generations of Pixel Chromebooks.

The new Pixelbook is a 2-in-1 design with the tablet portion folding back behind the keyboard to give it a tablet only feel.  Like other similarly designed Chromebooks, the keyboard becomes inactive when you are in this mode to prevent erroneous key presses.

Pricing will put the new Google Pixelbook in the premium category for sure.  The 128GB with 8GB of RAM model will be $999, the 256GB model is $1399 and the 512GB model is a wallet shattering $1749.

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Google Home Update Suggests Google Assistant Coming to Chrome OS

Google Assistant in Google Home App

Whether it was intentional or not, Google has all-but confirmed that Google Assistant will be coming to Chrome OS in the near future.  In the latest update for Google Home for Android, the Chat with Google Assistant section of the app (in the Explore portion of the app) clearly indicates Chromebooks as an option for Assistant.  You can see a screenshot of it after the break.

Seeing this is not entirely unexpected.  Google has been rumored to be bringing their AI driving Assistant to Chrome OS and with the Pixel event later this week, where the Pixel Book is expected to be announced as a premium Chromebook offering.  Other teardowns of Chrome OS and the Google Home app have also pointed to code that suggests Google Assistant is going to coming to Chrome OS.  In other words, there is a 99% chance this is accurate.

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ASUS Updated Chromebook Flip C101 Available for Pre-Order

Asus Chromebook Flip C101PA

The updated ASUS Chromebook Flip C101 is now available for pre-order from both ASUS directly as well as Amazon.  The 10.1″ WXGA Rockchip powered Chromebook is only $299, a great price point for a budget but well appointed Chrome OS device.

The display on the Chromebook Flip C101 renders at 1280 x 800 and is powered by the Rockchip 3399 OP1 processor and Mali-T860MP4 graphics processor.  It has 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM and 16GB of storage.  That storage can be expanded thanks to the MicroSD card slot but given that Chrome OS leverages Google Drive for storage, that may not be a big deal.

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