Thanks to a find by Chrome Story, we now know that an upcoming update to ChromeOS will come with an Android-like feature: a glanceable notification that alerts the user to the fact that their device is currently using the camera or microphone. Like we’ve seen in Android phones since the addition showed up in Android 12, ChromeOS will soon have an ongoing way to know that you are on camera or being recorded.
This is a welcome change in my opinion. Even if most Chromebooks come with a simple LED indicator next to the camera to let you know when it is active, not every model has this feature. With a software version of this type of indication, all Chromebooks will now have a simple way to show the user whether or not they are in a potentially non-private state with a simple look to the system tray area.
Just like we see with Android, this notification will come via a green icon, likely next to things like your battery level, time, notifications, and current connectivity indicator. There’s a chance it could land outside of this area and near your Phone Hub or Tote icons, but a small indicator near the clock makes the most sense. In the event you’ve not seen this in action on Android 12 or 13, here’s a quick glance:
The commit for this change to add the feature flag has already been merged, so it is likely we’ll see it land in the Canary or Developer Channels very soon. There are a few other, connected commits that aren’t yet merged, so it may be a couple weeks before we see this in Canary, but the majority of the work looks to be completed already.
As soon as we get this up and running, we’ll test it out and let you know about it. With it being this far along in development, it could skip through the channels quite quickly. ChromeOS 106 is due out later this week, so don’t count on this new feature arriving that soon, but 107 is definitely on the radar for sure. As always, it is great to see Google merging features from Android and ChromeOS together, and this particular one is a simple example of a very useful one that should be part of the overall experience when using a Chromebook.