Chrome OS Canary Channel Flag Centers Pinned Apps on The Shelf

Chrome OS Shelf in Chrome 67

A new flag found in the Chrome OS Canary channel build (based on Chrome 70), points to a Mac-like centering of apps you have pinned to the Shelf in the platform.  The new flag was discovered by the team over at Chrome Story and the flag is named “Newest shelf design”.

As Chrome OS users know, today the Shelf is justified to the left next to the App Drawer button.  This has pretty much been the way that Chrome OS has been since the beginning.

Chrome OS Shelf in Chrome 67
Chrome OS Shelf in Chrome 67

This flag in the Canary Channel shifts it all to the center

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HP Chromebook X2 Gains Linux Support in The Chrome OS Canary Channel

HP Chromebook X2

Right now your choices for Chromebooks that support Linux are pretty limited.  The Google Pixelbook and the Samsung Chrome Plus have been the first devices to support it.  Today however, the team over at XDA has discovered that the new HP Chromebook X2 is now supported.

Linux support on the X2 is limited to the Chrome OS Canary Channel.  For those that aren’t familiar with Chrome OS’ channels, the Canary Channel is pre-alpha essentially with a lot of experimentation (and thus crashes) going on.  It is not for the faint of heart and indeed you have to bypass a lot of the platforms security mechanisms to get to it.  But if you really want to go there, you can and can try out Linux on the X2.

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Files App in Chrome OS Canary Channel Showing Android App Files

Files app in Chrome OS

The alchemy melding of Chrome OS and Android show no real signs of letting up and the latest example that is in the Chrome OS Canary Channel may be one of the most useful yet.  In the Canary Channel, when you open up the Files app to view files, you will now also see Android app related files with an appropriate flag enabled.  It means, for the first time, you can actually see the files associated with Android apps on your Chromebook all in one place.

The flag is -show-android-files-in-files-app and right now, it is only in the Canary Channel.  That means, roughly, that it is based in Chrome 69 which isn’t due out until September 11th of this year.  In other words, we’ve got a ways to go but the fact it is there is great news.  If you want to read the code commit, you can do that here.

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Progressive Web Apps Can Now Be Installed in The Chrome OS Canary Channel

Google Pixelbook Chrome OS Interface

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are coming and you can full expect a slew of them by the time we reach the end of 2018.  Google, Apple, Microsoft and Firefox have all committed to having support for PWAs, which are web sites that run like mobile apps on your phone or laptop.  Now Google has upped their game with Chrome OS and PWAs.

In the Chrome OS Canary Channel, the pre-alpha channel for the platform, you can now install Progressive Web Apps natively so they run just like a Chrome app on your Chromebook.  It is great news because it means that more-than-likely, by the end of summer, we will see PWA support natively in the Stable Channel.

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New Chrome OS Flag Bringing USB Access to Android Apps

Google Pixelbook Chrome OS Interface

Back in January, I posted about a new commit in the Chrome OS Gerrit that pointed to the ability for Android apps to be able to access a USB drive attached to your Chromebook.  At the time, it was only a commit and had not shown up in any channel for the platform but that now has changed.

The team over at Chrome Story had discovered a new flag that enables this feature in the Chrome OS Canary Channel.  The Canary Channel right now is based on what will be Chrome 68 so we are still several months away from it landing in the Stable Channel – but it appears to be coming.

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Chrome OS Canary Channel Has a New Keyboard Shortcut Viewer

Chrome OS Canary Material Design Keyboard Shortcut Viewer

A new and much improved Keyboard Shortcut Viewer is coming to Chrome OS.  In the Chrome OS Canary Channel, which is currently running a pre-alpha build of Chrome 67, the viewer has been radically updated to a Material Design look and feel.

The find comes from long time platform evangelist François Beaufort via his Google+ profile.  François is one of the best sources for what is coming in the Canary channel and this is another great example of it.

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New Android-Like Power Menu in The Chrome OS Canary Channel

New Android-Like Power Menu in Chrome OS Canary Channel

The touch enablement of Chrome OS continues, as well as the merging of look-and-feel elements between it and Android.  The latest example is in the Chrome OS Canary Channel, the pre-alpha builds of the platform, where you will now find the Power menu to look strikingly similar to its Android counterpart.

The new came from long time Chrome OS evangelist François Beaufort who posted about the find on Google+.  If you are a fan of Chrome OS, Francois is one you need to follow as he is great at finding these little nuggets, especially in the Canary Channel.

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Commit for Chrome OS Points to The Floating Virtual Keyboard Being Enabled by Default

Virtual Keyboard in Chrome OS

A new commit in the Chrome OS Gerrit points to the floating virtual keyboard being enabled by default when you enter into tablet mode on your compatible Chromebook.  The feature leverages existing flags that you can find in the Stable Channel today, but this commit make the default behavior change.

Today, if you go chrome://flags/#enable-floating-virtual-keyboard you can enable the floating virtual keyboard on your Chromebook.  Then, when you go into tablet mode, the keyboard can be moved from fixed to floating using the overflow menu (the three vertical dots).  You’ll also find several other virtual keyboard flags to play with if you do a search for “virtual keyboard” on the flags page.

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