When the new Chrome OS Media App first began showing up for users, we were excited by the new look of the application. What wasn’t so exciting was the lack of any new functionality. Essentially, the new Media App wasn’t that different than what we had before and simply retained the abilities of the old version but updated the paint job. We’ve known for some time that this wouldn’t remain the case, but we’ve not seen any of those changes until now.
Right now in the Developer Channel of Chrome OS 89 (spotted by Android Police’s Kent Duke), some notable new additions are present in the Media App that really enhance the app’s overall usability, so we fired up a device, moved to the Developer Channel and started testing some things out. Here are the most notable changes on the way.
New Experiments Menu
First up, there’s a new ‘Experiments’ menu that has a few interesting things in it. First is the ability to trigger the new color filter feature. More on that down the page a bit. Additionally in this menu, we see things like the ability to enable EXIF data for photos (doesn’t work yet), an option for motion reduction (presumably for videos down the road) and a toggle for a new ‘auto fix’ option as well. While most of these experiments don’t do anything yet, they provide us a bit of a road map to help us understand what could be coming in the future.
Once you’ve switched on the image filter experiment, you’ll see a selection of filters that look pretty familiar. In fact, they are completely identical to the current set of filters available on Google Photos. They work as expected and it is nice to be able to apply these same color-changing effects locally on a Chromebook with no need to upload a photo to Google Photos.
Additionally, the similarities here help us feel quite confident that the auto fix experiment will eventually land and give us the same Google image magic that Google Photos does when you click the auto fix button found there. For general users, it is the quickest way to an enhanced, better-looking photo and I rely on that button in Google Photos constantly. Having it available right on a Chromebook will be a really great upgrade.
Additionally we now have annotations in the Media App and they work very, very well. Whether its doodling on an image for fun or marking up something to send back to a work colleague, this ability will be very beneficial when it lands in the Stable builds of Chrome OS. Pen input was equally impressive, allowing for a far more precise inking experience than using your mouse or trackpad and the USI input was pretty much perfect, here. Inking PDFs in the Media App looks to be a work in progress, but I still think the better option on that front is utilizing the Chrome browser’s built-in pen annotation mode.
That’s all the new stuff for now, but as we can see with those experiments, more is on the way for sure. All the customary functions are still here, including a nice crop tool, resize tool, zoom abilities, and a sharing feature. With the set of tools already available, these new additions, and more coming, the Media App for Chromebooks could end up being a very productive tool after years of languishing as an afterthought. We’re very excited by the potential we’re seeing, and of course will update as we see more features roll out.