This week in Chrome OS: Chrome’s Material update
This week has multiple features that Chromium has committed to examine to implement in its upcoming features, not only is Chrome browser getting some material design changes but Chrome OS is adding some useful new features to it as well so that it integrates better with Android.
There were also a few new Chromebook hardware announcements and leaks, particularly when it came to HP. We expect this trend to continue for the next month or so as it is back-to-school season.
Let’s talk about some of the upcoming devices and take a look at what else might be in store for us.
Upcoming Chrome OS features/updates
Chrome’s Material makeover
We are all aware of Google’s efforts to revamp Material design in Android 12, so it makes sense that they would continue these efforts in other products as well. Originally spotted by Android Police, the Chrome browser is getting a Material Makeover with fewer blue accents.
This new Chromium Gerrit commit adds styling updates to Chrome’s preferences, bookmarks, downloads, extensions, and history.
You can enable these changes by using the flag:
The flag appears to mainly impact the styling for the light theme in Chrom, if you are using dark mode then the changes are a bit less noticeable. There is a slightly higher contrast in dark mode, but it does not stand out as much in comparison to the change from blue to white in the light theme.
Nearby Share integration in Android apps:
Chrome OS integration with Android is getting better and heading in the right direction. It is already possible to receive all notifications and messages on your Android phone in Chrome OS. Now, Google is prepping to add Chrome OS Nearby Share within Android apps.
We originally spotted this Chromium Gerrit commit earlier this week, the commit shows that Nearby Share is being tested in Android apps, it appears developers have tested the functionality already on the Hatch and Eve Chrome platforms.
Clearly, this would make it much more convenient to share content on your Android phone with a nearby Chromebook. Adding a share option within apps will also encourage users to use Nearby Share more often, as it is currently not that easy to utilize.
We are not exactly sure when Nearby Share will be available in Android apps, but we will be on the lookout for this developing feature.
Chrome OS gaining Windows-style positioning menu:
In another interesting Gerrit commit, it appears as though Chrome OS will soon gain a Windows-style menu for controlling window position. We barely have any details regarding this commit, as this is the first commit for the new feature. We expect that this will look something like the Windows menu below:
Obviously, this feature will be tested via a Chrome flag, so we will have a chance to test it out eventually. This is a welcome feature as Chrome OS is not the most intuitive when it comes to controlling and repositioning Windows.
HP Developing Alder Lake c1030
Recently our fellow bloggers at Chrome Unboxed have uncovered evidence that HP is working on an Alder Lake version of the premium Chromebook c1030p. This hardware discovery also comes to us by examining a Chromium commit. It appears as though the new Alder Lake model is code-named Redrix internally.
We know that this will be an update to the c1030, the commit says as much by indicating the two devices feature similar designs. This is very exciting as the c1030 is be of the best Chromebooks out there at present. An update to the aging processors would be welcome by all HP fans.
HP Pro c640 updated for 2021
The HP Chromebook c640 was recently refreshed for 2021, it provides a newer 11th-gen intel processor at a lower price of $849(63,000 INR). This is not a significantly larger upgrade, but the price reduction is substantial. The 2020 model of the Pro c640 ran over $1000, which is expensive even for an enterprise device.
If you are an enterprise customer, this is a solid upgrade for the internals, the build has not been updated and the original dim display of 250 nits does not appear to have any improvements either. Still, the Tiger Lake Chips and Iris Xe graphics definitely make this an impressive device from a performance perspective.
ASUS launched rugged detachable for education:
ASUS has launched a landing page for the all-new ASUS Chromebook detachable CZ1. The device is identical to the ASUS Chromebook CM3 detachable, aside from the new rugged improvements, this is a clear play in the education sector, with durable rubber trim and 3D texture for easy grip.
On the interior, the ASUS Chromebook CZ1 features the MediaTek Kompanio 500 chipset found in the CM3 and Lenovo Duet. It also comes with 4GB of RAM and two storage options of either 64GB or 128GB of eMMC.
It has the same 1920×1200, 16:10 display, garaged stylus, and a single USB Type-C port. You can also get a 3.5mm headphone jack, something that is not included in the Lenovo Duet.
The major advantage of the CZ1 is the inclusion of a keyboard case in the purchase price. Many detachable devices have optional keyboard cases, but for an educational device, it is great to see all of these in the box while purchasing it. The keyboard case also features a touchpad, something ASUS has omitted from previous detachable keyboards. There is no pricing yet, but this looks like a great device for K-12 students.
The best Chromebook that money can buy at present is the ASUS Chromebook CX9, it has replaced the Galaxy Chromebook 2 as the best device, mainly due to its keyboard.
Hopefully, we will begin to hear more about Vulkan support on Chrome OS as we get closer to Borealis becoming a reality for Chrome OS, until then, there has to be plenty of interesting hardware coming up to take a look at.