After rolling out to Android, Mac, Windows, and Linux, version 81 of Chrome OS is now available. The most notable feature in Chrome OS 81 is new gesture navigation for touchscreen devices.

Chrome OS 81 adds Android 10-inspired gesture navigation for tablets and other touchscreen modes. Instead of seeing the same shelf as laptop mode when in an app or Overview, you see a wide pill at the center.

Pinned app icons have been moved to occupy its own tray just above. A short swipe up and hold reveals the list of open apps, while going higher up the screen enters multitasking.

A related change sees the shelf in laptop mode get shorter, as well as lose the outlined buttons and pills at the right.

Chrome OS 81 widely rolls out Tab Groups to organize and seperate your open pages. To create, right-click (or double-tap) on a tab at the top of your screen and select “Add to new group” or “Add to existing group.” Collections are visually organized by color, with each group defaulting to a grey dot at the left.

Tapping it lets you name the group — which expands the circle into a pill, while you can choose from eight colors. You can “Ungroup” tabs from this menu or close everything inside, while dragging the group name lets you move them around the tab strip. It’s an alternative to having multiple browser windows open.

Tabs are beginning to widely roll out with this release of Chrome after appearing for some users last month. You can manually enable it with the following flag:

chrome://flags/#tab-groups

Progressive Web Apps with icons in the dock can now add badges for unread counts and other indicators without an accompanying notification.

Following audio and video in the last release, Chrome 81 autoupgrades HTTP images. Content will be blocked if it doesn’t load over HTTPS.

Chrome 81 features a full page warning for sites that do not support TLS 1.2. Other features in this release include:

  • Linux (Beta) support for Android emulators
  • Deploying Android apps to your Chromebook from Linux (Beta)
  • IP reporting for all managed devices
  • End to end support for printers via print servers
  • Picture-in-picture support for all Android apps

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