Google adds always-listening ‘OK Google’ voice activation to Chromebooks

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While “OK Google” capability has been available in the form of a Chrome extension for quite some time now, those using it had to be on a specific page within Chrome for the browser to be listening for the appropriate hot words. Now, Google has pushed—in the dev build of Chrome OS—the option for users to turn on always-listening “OK Google,” which will allow you to use voice activation from anywhere as long as your device is on and unlocked.

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Smart Lock keeps your Chromebook unlocked using your Android Lollipop phone

 

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A new feature called Smart Lock has now made its way to Chromebooks, allowing users to keep their Chrome OS-running laptops unlocked by simply keeping their Lollipop Android phone in relative vicinity. The feature was first introduced earlier this year at Google I/O 2014, and has been part of Lollipop since the OS started rolling out last month. But only just now, about 6 months after it was shown off, is the feature rolling out to Chromebooks (via ComputerWorld) running the Dev Channel of Chrome OS.

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Google bundling 1TB of Drive storage with the purchase of select Chromebooks

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Chromebook’s are becoming a viable option for people with simple computing needs, and while the laptop alternative typically ships with limited local storage, Google often tosses in 100GB of cloud space from Google Drive for two years. But to sweeten the pot this holiday season, the search giant is turning the dial up quite a few notches and tossing in 1TB of Drive storage with the purchase of an eligible Chromebook.

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Asus begins selling its first LTE Chromebook for $200 on a two-year Verizon contract

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It’s not the first LTE Chromebook, but it’s the first from Asus to offer cellular connectivity with sales of the device quietly kicking off at Best Buy and other retailers late last week. Asus doesn’t appear to have made an official announcement, but an LTE version of the C300 Chromebook variant is now selling through Best Buy according to an announcement sent over from Altair Semiconductor, the company providing the LTE chip for the Chromebook: Read more

Google confirms that a second-generation Chromecast is on the way

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Google’s first Android TV device is less than a fortnight away, however the company’s current television-friendly hardware appears to be doing just fine. In a recent interview with GigaOM, Google VP of product management Mario Queiroz said that Chromecast users have tapped the cast button 650 million times, a significant increase from the 400 million figure shared at I/O back in June.

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ABI Research: Chromebook shipments up 67 percent quarter-over-quarter

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A lot of people are buying Chromebooks, according to a recent report from ABI Research. Shipments for Google’s low-cost laptop alternative increased by 67 percent during the third quarter of 2014 when compared to the previous quarter. But the last three months weren’t the only boost for Chrome OS, as the research firm expects this year’s Chromebook shipments to double last year’s numbers.

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Chrome OS updated with USB file transfer support for Android phones and tablets

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Google updated the Stable channel of Chrome OS today and while the new build ships with its set of token bug fixes, this revised software also introduces support for a highly requested feature. Chromebook owners can now transfer files from Android smartphones and tablets via a USB cable. After several requests, this overdue feature is now available for all Chrome OS devices, excluding Chromeboxes.

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New Intel Broadwell-powered Chrome OS board spotted in Chromium code repository

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A new Chrome OS board named “Auron” based on Intel’s Broadwell chip line recently showed up in the Chromium code repository. Spotted by Googler François Beaufort, this appears to be one of the first devices to use Chipzilla’s 14 nanometer system-on-a-chip. Not a lot is known about this mystery board, but it manages to follow the trend of being named after a popular video game character. Beaufort recently outed a Chrome OS board referred to as “Ryu” from Capcom’s Street Fighter franchise and Auron is a character from the world famous Final Fantasy series.

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Microsoft is ready to challenge Chromebooks with a $200 Windows 8.1-powered alternative

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Microsoft appears to be gearing up to challenge Google’s Chrome OS by partnering with companies to release affordable Windows-based alternative notebooks. Pictured above is the HP Stream 14, a $200 laptop that feels a lot like Redmond’s answer to the Chromebook. From its 14-inch 1,366 x 768 display, to its modest AMD processor, all the way down to its 2GB of RAM, 32GB of flash memory (optional 32GB) and two years of cloud storage from Microsoft’s OneDrive — sound familiar?

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Acer takes on Samsung’s Chromebook 2 with better battery-life & faster graphics for $100 less

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Acer is providing tough competition for Samsung’s Chromebook 2 with its new Chromebook 13, offering 11-hour battery life with full HD display for $100 less. The NVIDIA Tegra K1 2.1GHz quad-core processor should give the 1920×1080 display even better graphics performance than Samsung’s Exynos-powered model, as well as beating its 9-hour battery-life, for $299 against Samsung’s $400.

The downside, as noted by Engadget, is the cheaper-looking casing, being plain white plastic rather than the faux-leather stitching of the Chromebook 2 …  Read more