Video conferencing exploded in popularity during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the early days as many businesses and schools went remote for the safety of employees and students. Zoom was the biggest name in the game for quite a while and still is extremely popular, but if you’ve ever used it on a Chromebook, you’re probably aware that it’s not quite up to snuff. Next week, though, that’s apparently set to change.

Zoom quietly announced this week that it would be releasing a brand new Progressive Web App on June 29 that will offer up a better overall experience from Chromebook owners using the service. The new app will be available for installation through the Google Play Store, a practice that started last year, as well as being available to install from the web directly as is offered by many other PWAs.

We’re excited to announce we’re launching a new Zoom progressive web application (PWA) for Chrome OS! This will improve the Zoom experience for Chromebook users, and give them access to even more Zoom features on Chrome OS devices.

Unlike the previous, very limited web app, this new PWA for Zoom will apparently offer “much of the same” functionality as the Windows and Mac apps, crucially including a customizable Gallery View, self-select Breakout Rooms (if supported by the meeting), both live transcription and translation, “a new background masking” privacy feature, and both raise hand and reactions for meetings. Zoom says more features will be added to its PWA and, in turn, Chromebooks over the next 3-6 months. This includes sharing audio when screen sharing and the whiteboard features too. Both of these were not supported with the legacy app

This new app also brings more features for teachers and students, a place where both Zoom and Chromebooks are widely used. Features supported by the PWA for teachers include the Security shortcut menu, sharing a Chromebook’s entire screen or just a single window, cloud recording, and Breakout Rooms. Students will also be able to use Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down “nonverbal reactions,” chat with their teacher over text, and join Breakout Rooms.

Notably, this new PWA for Zoom will require the Chromebook to be running Chrome OS v91 or higher. The legacy Zoom app for Chrome Enterprise and Education customers will stick around until January 2022, at which point it will be phased out for the new PWA.

Thanks Dee!

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