Just a couple of days behind schedule, version 83 of Chrome OS has started to roll out to users on the Stable channel. Since Chrome OS 82 was skipped entirely, this update was shuffled around a bit and because of the gap in releases, 83 contains a stockpile of updates and new features. We’ll be covering a number of those features in detail in the coming days but for now, here’s a rundown of what’s new in Chrome OS 83.
- Name your Virtual Desks
- View Password/Pin during Login
- Media Sessions with Assistant
- Use Google for Families on Chromebooks
- Tab Groups on Chrome Browser
First on the list is a minor refinement that will add a lot of proficiency to your workflow. Virtual Desks have been a welcome addition to Chrome OS and now, you can rename your desks to fine-tune the organization of your desktop. Simply swipe up with three fingers on your touchpad or press the overview(F5) key to reveal the “new desk” button. Click into the name of the desktop you wish to label and boom, you’re all set.
Next on the list, the ability to view your password or pin on the lock screen has made its way to Stable channel which is pretty cool considering the feature just began development back in late February. For those of you with difficult to type passwords, this feature will likely be a welcome addition to Chrome OS. The Google Assistant has just become a lot more useful on your Chromebook as well. “Media Sessions with Assistant” give you more control over your media playback with integrated voice controls via Google’s virtual helper. Along with the new abilities, the Chromebook support page now has a dedicated section where you can ‘Discover Google Assistant‘. The page will walk you through the growing number of things that you can do with the Assistant on your Chrome OS device. Best part? You can now set reminders on your Chromebook.
The last two updates are big news for a lot of users. Family Link has become the go-to for managing Chrome OS and Android for the kiddos but there are still some missing pieces here and there that would make the platform near-perfect. Thanks to this update, one of those pieces is now in place. Google recently added a handful of extensions to the whitelist for managed child accounts. This was due, in part, to the number of students taking part in remote learning. Installing the extensions requires permission for a Family Link manager. In Chrome OS 83, child accounts can now navigate to the Chrome Web Store and select an app or extension for installation and will be prompted to “ask parent” for approval. For now, it appears that the Family Link manager will have to manually enter his/her password for approval. My hope is that this will soon be integrated into the Family Link app and work no differently than Android apps.
Rounding off the list, Tab Groups are now in the Stable channel. Users can create and label tab groups to keep webpages corralled for easier navigation. Tab Groups can be given custom names and you can select from a range of colors for each tab group you create.
Update: It appears that Tab Groups are still behind a flag in Stable despite being part of the official release announcement. You can enable it by heading to chrome://flags/#tab-groups and turning it on.
I’m sure that there is more to discover in the latest release of Chrome OS and we’ll be digging around to bring you a closer look at what’s new. If you haven’t received the update yet, head to your settings menu and click “About Chrome OS.” From there, select “check for updates” and see if it has landed for you. If not, no worries. Chrome OS 83 will be rolling out for most users over the next few days. In the meantime, you can read the full announcement here.