16 Comments

Summary:

Google’s Chromebook continues to improve. The latest software update for all Chromebooks — even the CR-48 laptops — upgrades the browser to version 21 of Chrome. Even better are some user interface enhancements, more offline support and the ability to use wireless gamepads with a Chromebook.

Samsung's Series 5 550 Chromebook

All Google Chromebooks, even the first beta devices, have a large software update waiting for them. On Tuesday, Google announced that the web-centric notebooks would get the newest version of the Chrome browser — version 21 — but also a number of small feature enhancements and new functionality. My own Chromebook was last updated on July 28, showing that Google continues to improve its Chromebook devices on a timely basis.

Since all work on a Chromebook is done in the browser — you can’t install software on the laptop — Chrome 21 is the biggest part of the update, which all machines will get over the next few days.

But there’s more than just a better browser: user interface changes, a newer version of Adobe Flash, support for more wired and wireless devices, and new plug-in versions are all included.

Here’s a rundown of some of the changes Chromebook users can expect after the update:

  • A redesigned App list that doesn’t require a new screen; you can use it on the main desktop area
  • A new print dialog that integrates Google Cloud Print devices
  • Custom wallpaper
  • Offline support to work in the Google Docs app
  • LTE support in the modem manager
  • Support for standard USB audio devices and wireless gamepads
  • Updated plug-ins for GTalk and Netflix
  • A three-finger tap works as a middle button on the trackpad

I’m most excited for the wireless gamepad support and it’s likely the first feature I’ll try after I get the update. If you look at my video overview of the Chromebook, you’ll see me show off an incredible web-based game called Bastion at the 9:15 mark of the vid:

The problem is: I don’t often play it because I’m terrible at navigating through game play on a keyboard. With wireless gamepad support that issue is addressed and I should be able to use the gamepad with my Android tablets as well.

  1. Kevin you old fashion guy! It’s time to update your video creation software away from FLASH! ’cause even if it’s free, a majority of people can’t watch it on their preferred device aside their phone. And you should know, you use your chromebook almost exclusively, if I recall? No more Flash player after the upcoming update – even YOU won’t be able to watch your creations on your main window onto the world.

    Hey Mr. Malik, can you give poor oll Kevin a hand here?

    Share
    1. Hey, not fair, the upcoming Chrome book update will still support Flash!
      Well, I’d really like to watch your video, but I can’t on my Nexus 7 – my main information consumption device.

      Share
  2. I have the Chromebook now and I love it, it’s sick.

    Share
  3. Any idea when this is going to roll out?

    Share
    1. Google says in the coming days although I rebooted my Chromebook right after the news, hit the ChromeOS settings page and it found the update. Not sure of how they’re staging this.

      Share
      1. Thanks. I’m pretty pumped after reading your article. Thanks for propping the Chromebook — I love it, too…

        Share
      2. I got my update later on in the day. At first glance, I’m not crazy about the smaller app icons. Why doesn’t Google give us a way to sort this icons in ways beside drag and drop?

        Share
  4. Ok so why is my new chromebook still running version 20.0 & says it’s up to date??

    Share
    1. Google said the upgrade would be rolling out over several days, so it’s likely just a matter of time.

      Share
  5. SUPPORT JAVAAAAA!!!

    Share
  6. I just ordered mine yesterday on Amazon. looking forward to using it.

    Share
  7. but the samsung 550 lacks bluetooth. not going to help you much for wireless gamepads buddy

    Share
    1. ChromeOS does support some Bluetooth adapters that fit in one of the USB ports, so lack of an internal Bluetooth radio is a non-issue.

      Share
  8. i LOVED the chromebook when i saw it but now i wish i could have gotten a better laptop.You wonder why? well because we cant download anything.please fix it!!!!!!!

    Share
  9. Oscar Erik Portillo Wednesday, November 7, 2012

    Kevin how were you able to talk to someone on Skype using google talk?

    Share
  10. Kevin how do you add those icons to your home screen?

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post