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Summary:

All of the nifty features I’ve been using on the developer channel of Chrome OS are now available to the risk averse: Google updated the Chrome OS Beta channel. Here’s why it makes the experience better.

Two-Pixels

Even though I need my Chromebook Pixel for work, I still risk living on the bleeding edge. Instead of running the most stable version of Chrome OS, I took the plunge a few weeks ago to install the Chrome developer channel. That’s cutting edge, particularly for a work computer. Now Chrome OS device owners can enjoy the same new features but with some added stability: Google updated the Chrome OS Beta channel on Tuesday.

google-chrome-logo1That means most, if not all, of the nifty new features I’ve been using lately can be had without worrying too much about system crashes and glitches. To be honest, I haven’t seen too many on the dev channel, but beta is surely a safer place to be. So what’s new in Chrome OS 28.0.1500.20 (Platform version: 4100.17.0)

Immersive mode is one of my favorite new additions. Think of it as a full-screen mode that’s even better than the standard full-screen feature. In immersive mode, everything above a web page’s content is pushed off the top the screen; like an auto-hide feature for the URL bar, bookmarks, etc….

The Chrome OS launcher also autohides on the bottom of the display. The end result: You get a a true full-screen mode and gain a bit of working screen space. (Note: On the dev channel, I had to enable the feature in chrome://flags; you may need to do the same in beta.) Here’s a look at Techmeme in immersive mode, for example:

Immersive mode

If you look closely, you can see small indicators at the top and bottom of the screenshot; these show the open tabs and apps. You can mouse over these to un-hide the full information bars. I tend to skip that though: Using a three-finger trackpad gesture in dev, I scrub through my tabs quickly.

Here are a few of the other goodies in the new beta version:

  • The Files app — your Finder or File Explorer — gains new ways to view files. Files are grouped in new category additions: Shared with me, Offline and Recent.
  • When taking a screenshot, you’ll get a notification of success. Tap it to view or edit the screenshot, or ignore it and the notification panel will disappear.
  • Touch link higlighting isn’t something I use, but if you want some visual indication of where you’re tapping on a Chromebook Pixel, you can see it with this function.
  • Although the use cases are still relatively limited, screen rotation is also supported in this version.

Unless there are major issues with this beta build, I’d expect all Chrome OS users to see the new features in the stable channel within 4 to 6 weeks. Google is generally on a six-week schedule for Chrome OS updates, keeping the platform maturing on a refreshingly predictable basis.

  1. now it really look like JoliOS :)

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    1. How did I know you were going to say that? ;)

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  2. Chrome OS is getting more and more interesting to me. The only thing stopping me from experimenting with a Pixel for work is all the presentations I do. What do folks use to do presentations from Chrome OS?

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    1. Google Docs seems to work great for me. :-)

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    2. Drive is the cloud from Google, in it you can create presentations, documents, forms, spreadsheets, and drawings. https://drive.google.com

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    3. Forrest Rhoads Tuesday, May 28, 2013

      Prezi is pretty strong.

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      1. My third grader (and apparently all the kids in our school district here in Austin, TX – from elementary to high school) does her presentations, writes documents – all in Google Docs. She knows more about Google Docs than I do.

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    4. how about my simulation in hysys?

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    5. Google presentation is very powerful and you can use it offline. Drawing with Google presentation is very easy.

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  3. I don’t miss a whole lot from full operating systems, but I do find myself wishing Chrome OS had some kind of Mission Control-like feature that showed an overview of all your open windows. I feel like the multi-touch trackpad really goes to waste in this OS.

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  4. Screen rotation screams chrome os tablet to me

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  5. I was using Immersive Mode and Screen Rotation in Beta 27.

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  6. Chrome’s coming up with interesting features, but if you want a whole new type of browsing experience, try MyWebRoom.com. We’ve come up a fun and visual way to organize your online life and we’ve eliminated tabs: http://tinyurl.com/MyWebRoom-Goodbye-Tabs

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  7. Now that we can play .mkv files without renaming/re-encoding.. I love my chromebox. That was like the only thing stopping me from loving it. Now i can happily play all my media like a real pc.

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