With everyone — including students of all ages — working from home, video conferencing apps like Zoom have become essential parts of daily life. However, the Chromebooks that many students have handy were hindered by not being able to install the Chrome extension for either Zoom or Hangouts, but that has just changed.

Update 4/22: Even more extensions are coming soon to Chromebooks with Family Link.

Both Zoom and Hangouts are usable on Chromebooks without needing to install any extension, but the extension goes a long way toward making the experience feel more native. Most Chromebooks were already able to install and use these extensions just fine, but students using a Family Link account were prohibited from installing any kind of extension.

As spotted by Android Police, that has now changed, following a recent update to Chrome OS, part of Google’s efforts to keep Chrome version 80 as stable as possible. With the new update, Google has loosened the restriction on Family Link accounts to allow a selection of seven vetted extensions to be installed.

Chief on the list of student Chromebook approved extensions is the booming video conferencing app Zoom, along with its Google-branded competitor Hangouts Meet. Oddly, the latter doesn’t seem to have an official extension in the store, with the closest match being one for Google Hangouts “classic.”

Other items on the list include the fantastic flowchart/mind map app Lucidchart, as well as some lesser-known but equally useful extensions for typing with voice and automatically highlighting the most important parts of articles.

Update 4/22: While opening Family Link Chromebooks to the handful of vetted extensions above is a good step in the right direction, there are thousands of other extensions that are currently stuck unavailable. Thankfully, Google is also preparing a long-term solution for those other extensions.

As found by Android Police and tested on Chrome OS 83, it will soon be possible for children to “Ask a parent” for permission to install a new extension. From there, the parent or guardian can enter their password to approve the new extensions for their child’s Chromebook, though it may also be possible to approve the extensions from the Family Link app in the future.

Chrome OS Extensions "Ask a parent"

Image: Android Police

Chrome OS 83 is currently due to release at the end of next month, so we’ll see then whether or not the new extension approval process arrives, or if we’ll need to wait for version 84 later in the year.

Are you now using Zoom as part of your child’s schooling? Let us know down in the comments.

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Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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