Chromebooks may finally be getting voice recognition. Google Plus user François Beaufort discovered (via CNET) references to Google Now in the latest Chromium build yesterday that said “creating a skeleton for Google Now for Chrome implementation.” It’s not clear how long it will take for the new feature to roll out, but the code hints to Google Now’s features appearing in Google Chrome’s notification cards.
TL;DR: This is the first Chromebook effort that fulfills the ChromeOS mission: good quality, excellent (MacBook Air-like) design, low cost and functional, and easy to use. It won’t replace a mid-high end machine, but, for people with basic needs or who want an inexpensive second computer, this is a no brainer at $250.
Google’s Android and ChromeOS represent two different visions of the future of computing from inside the same company. The Android vision is a touch-enabled platform with apps that has been in vogue since the iPhone was released in 2007. The ChromeOS is the realization of the decades-old network client computer—which is just a browser as a user interface for a bunch of cloud services.
Android has clearly been popular on both phones and now tablets, but Chrome sales have been pretty lackluster until now. From my point of view, that’s due to a couple of reasons. For one, the devices, made by Samsung and Asus, were lackluster in speed compared to the Windows and Mac counterparts. ChromeOS devices should be faster than comparably equipped Macs and PCs because there is no overhead—it is just a browser. Yet the CR-48 and again with the second-generation Chromebooks weren’t noticeably faster than cheap netbooks. That’s the other problem: Chromebooks weren’t cheap – compared to similarly specced PCs, anyway. Often, you’d be able to find a cheaper Windows PC on sale that otherwise was the same or better.
So, to break it down: Chromebooks were overpriced and slow (and the design wasn’t very inspired).
Then came the third generation…
According to reports out of Asia, Mountain View-based Google will unveil its own-branded 12.85-inch touch laptop powered by its Chrome OS at the end of 2012. Details are scant this morning on what embodies the device; however, a report from Commercial Times said 20 million units are on tap. A Taiwanese-based company, named Compal Electronics, will be responsible for the overall production, while Wintek will supply the touch panels for the laptop.
Traditionally, Google’s approach to Chrome OS —or any of its software—has been to distribute it to various OEMs for production. Google has never manufactured its own product on a large scale, as the Nexus Q was the only one, and it wasn’t even shipped to the mass-market, but that won’t be the case with its latest Chrome OS device.
Samsung and Acer have released past iterations of Chrome OS. While the overall success of the platform is not really known, Chrome OS products are sold in larger stores like Best Buy. Google pitches Chrome OS as the solution “for everyone.” Just maybe a touch-enabled laptop could strike the fancy of some users looking to ditch their traditional devices.
Google also highlighted some of the other areas it’s improving in Chrome including enhancements to Google Cloud Print server-side and work to minimize wait times: Read more
Google launched its new ARM-powered Chromebook last week with two years of 100GB Google Drive storage and 12 Gogo in-air, Wi-Fi passes for free, and it even published FAQ pages so folks could access the perks in just a few quick steps.
Here’s how to claim the 100GB of Google Drive storage:
- Log into your Chromebook (ARM-powered Chromebook, Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550, or Samsung Chromebox Series 3 only).
- Update to to the latest version of Chrome OS (Chrome OS 23 required).
- Go to the Google Drive offer page, and the 100GB will soon load in your account (Google will verify the Chrome OS device—only one deal per Google account).
More details are available at Google’s Goodies page.
The steps for Gogo passes are below.
According to a listing on Amazon and Samsung’s website, a 3G version of the new Chromebook is also available for $329.99. When the latest Chrome OS laptop was announced yesterday, there was no mention. However, it is now available for all to pre-order. Besides 3G technology, specs remain the same on the Chromebook. It packs an 11.6-inch screen, 16GB of storage, 2GB of RAM, and Bluetooth. Like the previous versions of the Chromebook, the new 3G version will be bundled with two free years of 100MB of data per month from Verizon. [The Verge]