In addition to the new ChromeOS and Intel-based ChromeBook announcements this morning, Intel announced an important new manufacturing initiative for its computer microprocessors. The company announced via a video that it will be moving production of its processors to completely lack conflict materials. These new chips, including the more efficient Bay Trail, will be conflict free in the new ChromeBooks. Intel’s video explicitly mentions materials such as gold, tungsten, and tin coming from war zones in the Congo. The video says that Intel is choosing to completely revamp its processor manufacturing operations and to assist these zones rather than abandoning them and moving to already conflict-free zones for sourcing materials.
Android Police has spotted a new feature in the Chrome OS dev channel that could one day allow users to unlock devices running Chrome OS by simply having their phone near the computer. The feature, which is still in a very early beta, is dubbed “Easy Unlock.” With this feature, your Chromebook could sense when your phone is nearby and Easy Unlock would automatically unlock the Chromebook, preventing the need to enter your password.
If you’ve been wanting to try a Chromebook, but have held off due to their need for an internet connection, Best Buy might have a remedy for your dilemma. The blue and yellow big box is currently knocking $100 off HP’s 11.6″ LTE Chromebook, bringing its asking price to $199. The device is backed by Verizon’s LTE network, you’ll pretty much have internet access anywhere in the US.
Google has announced an experimental feature in the developer version of Chrome OS that allows you to access more than one user profile at the same time, easily flicking between them, as well as passing both tabs and files back-and-forth between profiles.
Switching profiles is as easy as clicking on the profile picture in the system tray popup. [...] One nice thing, but still highly experimental, is that you can move windows to different profiles with a simple right click in the window top bar. As you can see in the video, even the Files App even supports this feature.
To access the feature in the Chrome OS dev channel, enter the following line:
If you’re not currently using the dev channel, you can find instructions for switching here, but note that by definition you can expect to experience some glitches. The stable channel is always recommended when working on anything important.
I’m not going to lie, this is a bit depressing. Among other boilerplate-type of answers to good questions that Wired’s Steven Levey threw at him, Sundar Pinchai said:
What can we expect from I/O this year?
It’s going to be different. It’s not a time when we have much in the way of launches of new products or a new operating system. Both on Android and Chrome, we’re going to focus this I/O on all of the kinds of things we’re doing for developers, so that they can write better things. We will show how Google services are doing amazing things on top of these two platforms.
We’ll be on hand this week to see exactly what that means.
Some other tidbits from the interview: On Firefox OS: “It isn’t surprising. If we don’t do ChromeOS, someone else will”. On Google-branded hardware: “Any hardware projects we do will be to push the ecosystem forward”. Read more
Google has launched four new 15-second ads for Chrome that seem incredibly mundane compared to the high quality, inspirational fare we’ve grown accustom to. They are such a stark contrast to some of the better ads we’ve seen for any technology over the last few years.
It goes downhill from here… Read more
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…
Over on the Chrome Blog today, Google highlighted some of the new features in this week’s stable release of Chrome OS with the most notable being a redesigned apps list that includes an omnibox search bar at the top:
Notably, we made the apps list much more compact, so you can access your apps without interrupting your browsing experience. We also added a search box at the top of the apps list, which you can use like an omnibox to search the web, specific websites, or the apps on your computer.
Other improvements included in the release: custom wallpapers, a redesigned Cloud Print dialog, and the ability to save files directly to your Google Drive. Google also noted the release includes”audio support for USB and HDMI, additional sandboxing security features, and many more bug fixes.” Read more