By Robby Payne Leave a Comment
Chrome OS 98 is out and available for most devices at this point, so it’s time to dig in and see what new features are hiding both behind flags and in plain sight. Michael did a great job highlighting the main new features of Chrome OS 98 in a post earlier this week, but just like we see with each iteration of the operating system, there are some really handy features that are basically ready to go if you simply turn on a few flags.
As we always point out, some of the stuff we’ll discuss today is still in development and may or may not work for you as a daily addition.If any of these flags cause you trouble, just turn them off for now. However, there are a few of them that are far enough along in the development cycle to deem worth a look. They could really enhance your Chromebook experience, so let’s get into it.
The first new feature we’re talking about today is by far the least dependable on the list. While it worked flawlessly for me on the ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5400, the HP Chromebase 22 we filmed with was giving me fits for sure. Give it a try and your mileage may vary: when it works, it is really good. Head tochrome://flags/#smart-lock-ui-revamp and after you have it up and running, you’ll notice a revamped UI for Smart Lock that works much faster and more reliably than the older version.
It’s worth noting that on the ASUS Flip CX5400, I was able to boot from a powered-down state and still use Smart Unlock to get into my Chromebook. That’s never been possible before, and between the cleaned up animations and quick response (again, when it was working), Smart Unlock could finally become a feature I use on a regular basis after all these years of being too unreliable to actually use.
This feature has been around for a little bit, I think, so it isn’t technically new to Chrome OS 98. It was new to me as I started digging into it and these new site settings toggles are extremely useful and intuitive once you know they are there.
When you click the little icon to the left of the URL in your address bar, you now have an additional section of toggles that only appear if they apply to the site you are on. Go to Google Calendar as an example, and you’ll see a toggle for notifications and/or pop-ups and redirects. Go to YouTube and a toggle will appear for sound as well.
What this does is simplify the most common site settings users tend to access. Instead of opening up a new window and digging through the full list of site settings, these toggles get you to the thing you were likely searching for anyway and help you silence sounds, notifications and pop-ups with ease.
The Chrome OS share sheet is relatively new and still gaining abilities. The latest update to Chrome OS gives us a much-needed default option with the addition of a copy button. Simple? Sure, but how many times do you find yourself copy/pasting URLs from the browser. While this isn’t any different, it certainly makes the task faster. Simply click the share button in the URL bar, click copy, and do what you need with it.And don’t forget to use SEARCH + V to paste so you can see your last 5 copied items to choose from.
Virtual Desks are near and dear to my heart and they just keep getting better. With Chrome OS 98, there are new features available both right out of the box and behind a few flags that make Virtual Desks far more useful for the average Chromebook user.First, you can now jump to any of your open desks with a new shortcut: SHIFT + SEARCH + (1-8). It’s simple, intuitive, and is now the fastest way for me to jump to my 4th desk to adjust my music playback.
The next fun feature is the ability to drag an open window to a not-yet-created desk. You’ll need a flag for this one(chrome://flags/#ash-drag-window-to-new-desk), but once you have that in place, you can make new desks by going into the overview mode and dragging any available window over the new desk plus sign up top. Immediately, a new desk will be created with your window inside and you can rename it right away.
Once you have those desks all in order, you can use this next flag(chrome://flags/#enable-desks-templates) to set each one as a template. Once the flag is on, simply enter the overview mode, navigate to the desk you’d like to make a template of, and select the ‘Save desk as template’ option. Moving forward, you can call up this template by selecting the templates option up top in overview mode. Clicking this will bring up your saved templates, and from there you can either use the template or delete it.
These templates are powerful, too, resuming your apps (web or Android) just as you left them. The size on the screen and the position is exactly what you saved in the template, and it makes a fresh setup in the morning an absolute breeze.
Finally, there is a new flag for enhanced gesture support for switching desks (chrome://flags/#enable-desks-trackpad-swipe-improvements). When they changed the 4-finger swipe gesture to allow for multi-desk movement, something didn’t translate for me. Since that change, I’ve mostly been using the desktop shortcuts to move around, but this new flag makes the 4-finger gesture feel more solid, stable and reliable. I’m hoping that when this eventually rolls out to the Stable Channel of Chrome OS, I can get back to moving through my desks with my trackpad again.
Finally, we have a feature that users have been wanting for years at this point: re-ordering of apps in the launcher. Now, this won’t work on the main launcher just yet, but it works just fine in the new Productivity Launcher we should have out of the box in the next few versions of Chrome OS. We talked about the Productivity Launcher in our Chrome OS 97 video, so I won’t go too far into it here. Just know that it is a more compact and efficient launcher for the desktop layout of Chrome OS and we all can’t wait for it to arrive without a flag.Advertisements
For now, however, you’ll need a few flags to get this all working and though that fact would make it seem experimental, I can assure you the new launcher is in a very solid place at this point. Here are the flags you’ll need to check it out:
Turn those on and enjoy a far-better take on the Chrome OS app launcher. With the fun, slide-in animation, compact design, and app reordering, I’m leaving these flags on until the feature arrives. With app reordering now in the mix, you can simply right-click in the launcher and reorder things alphabetically by name or – oddly enough – by app icon color.That’s it for this update, though, and we’ll be back at it in just a few weeks to dig through Chrome OS 99 for new features, hidden features, and everything in between.
Filed Under: Chrome OS, New & Upcoming Features, News Tagged With: videos