Google has been pushing AI-driven additions to their services for a long time, but they’ve been far more verbose about it since the rise of generative AI like ChatGPT hit the scene nearly a year ago. Now, it looks like they are ready to begin showcasing more of this consumer-facing AI in the Chromebook ecosystem, giving users the ability to easily enhance their writing quality across the entire OS with an upcoming feature called “Help Me Write.”
Google has already delivered these sorts of AI-powered writing and editing tools in some of their other apps like Gmail and Google Docs to help users easily improve their writing. Additionally, the Google Messages app recently rolled out a “Magic Compose” feature that uses AI to help draft or edit replies. These moves each highlight Google’s increasing focus on generative AI and we don’t expect them to slow down anytime soon.
Generative AI for ChromeOS
The latest development with Google’s AI is happening for Chromebooks via a yet-to-be-announced project that is revealed in the Chromium Repositories via multiple code names – ‘Orca’, ‘Mako’ and ‘Manta’. According to findings by 9to5 Google, ‘Orca’ is the codename for the new right-click menu section that will come into play when editing a body of text anywhere in the OS. Once activated, ‘Orca’ opens a new bubble UI, known as ‘Mako’, which is there to carry out three main functions:
- Request rewrites: requests an AI-rewritten version of the text you’ve typed.
- Preset text queries: offers up a list of example prompts, presumably to ask for rewrites in specific styles.
- Insert rewritten text: places the AI-generated text back into your original document.
The final component – ‘Manta’ – is responsible for sending your original text prompts to Google’s servers, which in turn sends back the AI-processed text you requested. As expected, this only happens with explicit user consent and aligns with Google’s existing policy for other AI writing tools.
According to 9to5 Google’s findings, a recent code update cements the fact that all of this is definitely an AI writing tool for Chromebooks. Designated “CHROMEOS_COPY_EDITOR_WRITER” in one of the code changes, the new feature will offer various writing adjustments like: Shorten, Elaborate, Rephrase, Formalize, and Emojify, mirroring the options available in the existing “Help Me Write” AI found in Gmail.
What this all means
Here’s why this is significant among the other AI writing tools Google offers: it’s integrated directly into ChromeOS, making it available across most apps once it arrives. Whether you’re drafting a social media post or chatting on Discord, AI-powered writing will soon be just a right-click away when you are on a ChromeOS device.
Early indicators suggest that this new feature will likely be exclusive to devices that fall into the upcoming category known as Chromebooks Plus (formerly Chromebook X). This new line of ChromeOS devices aims to set apart Chromebooks that meet certain criteria for performance and overall quality. Since it seems that ‘Orca’ will be controlled by the Feature Management Google will use to differentiate Chromebook Plus devices, you can bet this feature will only hit those new Chromebooks first.
This is a pretty significant move by Google and if done right, it could be a massive win for ChromeOS on the whole. Using generative AI on a system-wide basis like this could help set ChromeOS apart in a very significant way, and I’m hoping that fact might see Google rolling this feature out to the broader Chromebook community over time. As a flagship feature for the upcoming Chromebook Plus lineup, I think it will be a great inclusion, but it’s one I sure hope to see most users be able to access over time.