Chrome OS Beta Channel Updated to First Chrome 68 Build

Google Pixelbook Chrome OS Interface

After being delayed following the update of the Chrome OS Stable Channel to Chrome 67, The Chrome OS Beta Channel has now received its first Chrome 68-based build.  The channel is now running build 68.0.3440.25 (Platform version: 10718.22.0) and it is available for the majority of devices in the channel starting today.

For those that may be new to Chrome OS, the Beta Channel is the last channel prior to a build being released to the general public in the Stable Channel.  You can always change your channel on your Chromebook by typing Chrome://help and then clicking on the Build Information section of the page.  Keep in mind that the hint is in the name:  The Beta Channel is still not ready for prime time so you could run into bugs or other issues that impact your daily workflow.

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How To Enable The New Look Wallpaper Picker in Chrome OS

New Wallpaper Picker in Chrome OS

If you are running Chrome 67 on your Chromebook, there is now a flag available to you that will allow you to enable the still under construction new wallpaper picker.  The new picker replaces the old style picker which has been in the platform since, well, forever.  It brings a refreshed, Material Design look to the picker and eventually will marry up with the backdrop wallpaper changer that is found in Chromecast.

That’s where the under construction part comes into the equation.  Right now there is a commit in the Chrome OS Gerrit that points to a new wallpaper that is enabled by default and that it will marry up with Chromecast.  The idea is that your Chromecast and your Chromebook will have the same look and feel and will be drawing from the same service in the background to give you your wallpaper options.

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YouTube Music and YouTube Premium Now Available

YouTube Music

After being announced last month, literally in the middle of the night, Google has now pulled back the covers on the rebooted YouTube Music subscription service as well as the YouTube Red rebranded YouTube Premium.  The two services combined are $11.99 per month and bring you a wealth of music and video content on your Android phone, tablets, PCs, and Chromebooks.

The updated services bring ad-free music and videos to your devices with both original content and official music channels for artists that you can subscribe to and follow.

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Google Begins Rolling Out Messages for Web

Messages for Web Instructions

One of the more anticipated features of Android Messages, the texting app from Google, has been Messages for Web.  As the name implies, it links Messages on your phone with your laptop to allow you to send and receive text messages without having to touch your phone.  Google has flipped the switch and the new site for the feature is live.

Navigating to the Messages for Web site walks you through the instructions to link your phone to the site via a QR code.  You scan that QR code within the Android Messages app under the overflow (three vertical dots) menu.

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Google Assistant Can Now Remind You Where You Parked

Google Assistant Remembers Where You Parked

The features and abilities of Google Assistant, both on Android and on Google Home, continue to impress and one of the latest is incredibly handy.  You can now tell Assistant where you parked your car, then ask where you parked and get directions to your car.

Isn’t living in the future cool?

How it works is pretty straightforward.  When you park your car, just open up Assistant by saying, “Hey Google, remember where I parked my car.”  You will get a confirmation and there is a special “P” pin that is put into Google Maps.

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Google Maps No Longer Supports Ride Share Direct Booking With Lyft and Uber

Ride Share Changes in Google Maps

Google has made a small but important change to Google Maps, no longer allowing you to book a ride sharing service like Lyft or Uber directly from within the app.  The change appears to be recent and is reflected in the support pages for the feature.  Now, instead of being able to book from within Google Maps, you have a link to go to the ride share apps from the providers.

The feature got a lot of hype when it was launched early last year and a way to prevent users from having to move around from app-to-app to book a car to pick them up.  You could also see ride share options to a destination you picked in Maps, such as a restaurant, from your location.

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Gmail for Android Update Adds Inbox Unsubscribe Tips

Gmail Unsubscribe Tip Settings

The latest update to Gmail for Android is making its way out to the Play Store and it brings a new Tip setting for users.  The new build is version 8.6 for those keeping score at home and when you get the update, you will have a new Inbox Tip inside settings for your Gmail account.

The setting is enabled by default and when you tap it, you see the Unsubscribe tips.  With this turned on, you will get occasional tips to unsubscribe to bulk email that you rarely read.

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Chrome OS Dev Channel Updated With Fifth Chrome 68 Build

Google Pixelbook Chrome OS Interface

A fifth Chrome 68 based build has arrived in the Chrome OS Dev Channel, the platforms alpha build channel.  Build 68.0.3440.25 (Platform version: 10718.22.0) is the new version and available for the majority of Chromebooks that are in the channel.

For those that are new to Chrome OS, the Chrome OS Dev Channel is considered the Alpha channel for the platform.  Normally this channel has a fair number of bugs or performance issues as it gets refined prior to be releasing into the Beta channel for broader testing.

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