New Beta Version of Chrome OS Now Available

Chrome OS Build 61 App Launcher

Following on the release of a new Dev channel build for Chrome OS, there is now a new Beta channel build too.  Build 64.0.3282.101 (Platform version: 10176.54.0) has been released for most devices and can be downloaded now, if you are in the beta channel, by typing chrome://help  in the omnibar in the browser.

The update has a laundry list of fixes and improvements that you can read here if you are so inclined.  Ultimately there are a lot of general improvements to the platform.

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Amazon Prime Monthly Membership Cost Up Nearly 20% Starting Next Month

Amazon Prime Logo

If you are paying for an Amazon Prime Membership on a monthly basis, it is probably time to consider moving to an annual subscription.  Starting next month, your monthly subscription jumps by nearly 20%.

Starting in the February billing cycles, those who have a monthly subscription to Amazon Prime will see the price increase from $10.99 to $12.99 per month before applicable taxes.  That, at just the membership cost, makes it just over $155 per year.  The one-time annual membership remains $99.

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Google Pixelbook Owners Can Get a Free Loop to Hold Their Pixelbook Pen

Google Pixelbook Pen Loop

For those of you who have a Google Pixelbook and Pixelbook Pen, Google is offering you a free loop to attach to your Chromebook to hold your Pen when it is not in use.  The company has setup a site where you enter in your information and they will ship you the loop in a few weeks.

While the reviews of the Pixelbook have been gushing, one complaint from reviewers and users has been what to do with the $100 Pixelbook Pen when it is not in use.  This free loop seems to be Google’s answer to the problem.

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Chrome OS Dev Channel Updated to Chrome 65

Google+ Android App Running on Chrome OS

For developers and for those who like a good bug hunt, the Chromium team within Google has released a new build to the Chrome OS Dev channel.  The Dev channel is really aimed only at developers to give a sneak peak into what will be coming up.  In this case, it is the first build based on Chrome 65.  It is build 65.0.3322.0 (Platform version: 10315.0.0).

For those that aren’t familiar with the different Chrome OS channels, the Dev channel is essentially the alpha channel.  This can be a really rough experience with lots of weird behavior and bugs.  It is aimed at developers and those who like serious bug hunting to see what is coming up in the platform.  This channel is not recommended for daily use on your daily driver Chromebook.

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Overstock The Latest Store to be Added to Google Express

Overstock on Google Express

Overstock, the online retailer of a wide range of personal and home decor items, has become the latest company to be added to Google Express.  That brings the total number of retailers you can buy from within the Express site or app up to 56, all with free shipping after a certain purchase level.

If you aren’t familiar with Overstock, they started life as a company selling equipment and other furnishings from startups that had gone bust.  But that quickly morphed into selling new furnishings, personal care items and home decor, some of which is now specifically manufactured for the company.

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Google to Begin Using Mobile Site Speed Consideration as a Ranking Factor Mobile Site

Google has informed webmasters via a blog post that an upcoming changing the Google Search algorithm will take mobile site speed into consideration for page ranking.  Referring to it as the “Speed Update”, starting in July 2018, sites that have slow response times will have that factored into their overall search results within Google Search.

The “Speed Update,” as we’re calling it, will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. It applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page.

However, mobile site speed is not the only consideration in page ranking nor will it be the only factor come July.

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Google Pay Adds 80 New Financial Institutions to Kick Off 2018

Google Pay Logo

If there were doubts in your mind about the growth of Google Pay, formerly Android Pay, halting in the new year, rest easy.  Kicking off 2018 right, the pay service from Google added 80 new institutions today to the roster that support the service with their debit and credit cards.  With these new additions, there are now a whopping 1,196 banks and credit unions that support Google Pay.

The new additions, as has been the case for a while now under the Android Pay moniker, are mostly regional and local institutions.  The big national banks supported the service in the early days.

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