One of the fun parts of any update to Chrome OS is hunting around for new feature flags that work well with the latest version of the OS. Experimental feature flags are generally signs of things to come in Chrome and Chrome OS, but actually trying them out can be an exercise in patience and searching. There are so many feature flags in any version of Chrome OS at this point that it becomes difficult to parse what’s new, what’s already active by default, and what will or won’t totally break your Chromebook experience.
With each update to Chrome OS, we sift through these feature flags and test them out to see which ones are worth trying and which ones are safe for you turn on and leave on if you so choose. So, here are five great flags you can enable right now on your Chromebook in Chrome OS 90. As a quick refresher, in order to find and enable these flags, head to chrome://flags in your browser and you can search for each by name and get them all enabled at once before you restart your Chromebook.
Stylus battery level indicator
As simple as it sounds, this small feature is incredibly helpful. Just as it sounds, when you have this flag enabled, you’ll see a real-time view of your stylus battery level in your stylus toolbar on the shelf. Though most USI pens have great battery life, it is very nice to have a quick-glance way to tell where that battery is when you have the stylus out and in-hand. I’m really looking forward to this feature just being a general part of the Chrome OS experience.
This feature has been in the works for quite some time. Google actually announced this as a part of the Chrome OS 90 update, but we’ve not seen any sign of it arriving out of the box for any users just yet. That’s OK, though, since flipping on this flag will get you the desired results right now.
Live captions are like magic and just work as you’d expect, putting a floating text caption on any video that begins audio playback. It was even transcribing an ad that popped up on a site I visited. This feature isn’t limited to just the big services like YouTube and Netflix: it works for any video on your Chromebook and does so with a good bit of customization as well. Font size, style, shadow and background can all be edited to suit each individual and once again, just like Phone Hub and the new screenshot tool, this feature is rolling out in a very mature, fully-baked form.
Updated Account Management Flow
This is another small update, but a great one for new users. In the accounts section of your settings app, you can see all the logged-in accounts on your device. There’s little to differentiate the main account from the add-on accounts, however, and this new update makes your primary account far more prominent. Again, it’s a subtle change, but for new users this change will help clarify the difference in the main Google account on their Chromebook versus the additional accounts they’ve added along the way.
Show Date In Tray
Probably the smallest change in our list, adding the date in the shelf is the simplest change that makes the biggest difference. As the title alludes to, this new feature simply adds a glanceable date to the tray next to the time. It is simple and helpful and as I’m typing this article on a Chromebook that doesn’t have the feature flag turned on (that’s the life of a Chromebook reviewer), I’m conscious of the fact that I don’t have the date at a glance and I already miss it.
Link To Text
Finally, we have a feature that is probably going to be one of my most-used additions. Users who flip on this flag will be able to instantly create a link that they can share that gets another user right to the spot on a site they are aiming for. Once you have this flag enabled, simply highlight some text, right-click it, select ‘copy link to highlight’ and share to your heart’s delight. When another user clicks your generated link, they’ll be transported to the website you linked, directly to the text you highlighted, and it will be highlighted for them as well. Right off the bat I can think of quite a few times I could have used this already in the past week, so I’m excited to have this tool at my disposal moving forward.
For now, that’s it. While there are other flags out there (lots of them, actually), we thought these were the most useful this time around and you can start using them right now if you are on Chrome OS 90. From our testing, there seems to be little to no downside of firing all of these up and taking advantage of these new additions to the OS, so don’t waste any more time here. Go get your flags on!