Google has released the latest update for its increasingly popular Chrome OS platform, bringing some conservative but welcome changes to the web-centric operating system. Though the new additions don’t do much to alter the overall experience you’ll have with your Chromebook or Chromebox, the few subtle tweaks do help to make the platform that little bit more user friendly.
The most notable change is one that you could be forgiven for missing entirely. It’s now possible to create groups of "apps" (they mostly just open web-based services in new tabs) in the app tray just like you can on Android or iOS. Certainly a useful addition if you make full use of the Chrome Web Store.
In addition to this, Google has tweaked the window controls in the new update. The minimize button is back, and you can now long-press the maximize button to easily shift the current window to the right or left of the display.
It’s also now possible to hotword (or “OK Google”) when you open a new tab, something that the company has teased on its less stable developer channel of the operating system. Lastly, a new captive portal detection system has been implemented, helping you easily get online in coffee shops, airports or anywhere that uses the technique.
Not for everyone
Though the above changes are definitely a step in the right direction for the stripped-back operating system, they won’t be pushed to all Chrome OS systems, at least not at first. The software upgrade will not be available to users of either the ASUS Chromebox or the Samsung Series 3 Chromebook.
The latter of these is the most surprising, as the laptop is not only extremely popular, but also shares its internals with HP-made Chromebook 11.