There are a ton of details we now know about Google’s upcoming Chromebook: the Pixelbook Go. From screen size/resolution to build materials, configurations, and speaker setups, we’re more familiar with this year’s #madebyGoogle Chromebook than any that came before it. It only makes sense, really. We (along with many other sites) have been tracking the development of ‘Atlas’ (this device’s internal name) for over 18 months at this point, so more time under the microscope usually means more time for things to dribble out. Though we know much from the leaked info that is now out in the world, we still believe there are features we’ve tracked for the Pixelbook Go that we expect to see it launch with.
First up, we’re expecting the screen to have a few nifty features. We’ve expected real-time auto brightness on Chromebooks for some time and haven’t ever received it. Sure, when you boot up devices like the Pixelbook or Pixel Slate, they have auto brightness until you manually adjust it (and then lose the feature until reboot), but it is a flimsy alternative to the fantastic Adaptive Brightness in the Pixel phones. That Adaptive Brightness is what we’ve been tracking with ‘Atlas’ and we’re really hoping to see it finally show up on in Chrome OS.
The next one is a bit of a stretch, but I don’t think it is out of the realm of possibility, either. We found a commit and verified the veracity of a Reddit post, showing that multiple refresh rates are not only being tested on Chromebooks, but can actually be selected and changed. In the commit, we see the following language:
Introduce a new class (FrameRateDecider) to decide the refresh rate for the display in cases where multiple refresh rates are supported by the current display.
We thought this might just be for external monitors, but there’s really no language here to make that point. Instead, this is just high refresh rate support being added to Chrome OS conveniently in time for the launch of the shiny, new Pixelbook Go. With all the focus on the screen of this Chromebook and it’s insanely high PPI (the highest of any Chromebook), I don’t think shipping a 90hz screen would be that big of a surprise. Oh, and don’t forget the Pixel 4 is launching with a 90hz display, too, so there’s that.
Next up is a feature I would almost guarantee we’ll see in the Pixelbook Go: quick charging. We’ve been tracking this feature and its close connection to ‘Atlas’ for a while, and it would only make sense that an easy and quick way to top off a mobile-minded Chromebook (with that name, it is clear this will be leveraged towards people on the move a lot) would be of top priority. I’m not saying Chromebooks charge slowly at this point, but a quick-hit 50% bump when you really need it would be a great addition to what is already adding up to be a fantastic Chromebook.
Finally, we have face detection. While we aren’t sure what form this will take for Chromebooks, we have a few thoughts. Either way, some form of facial recognition is definitely coming: we just aren’t sure what it will be used for. On one hand, Google could leverage this similarly to the current PIN unlock on Chrome OS. It isn’t secure enough to log in on boot or get into core account-level stuff, but it can unlock your device. Without all the fancy arrays and tech that the Pixel 4 will have for advanced face unlock, there’s no way that same feature makes it to the Pixelbook Go unless we’ve all missed the development and addition of all those sensors to ‘Atlas’ in the repositories.
The other use case for facial recognition would be the forthcoming Ambient Mode that could launch on the Pixelbook Go. This mode, as we’ve previously discussed, will add Nest Hub features to phones and Chromebooks alike when they are docked or otherwise told to enter this interface. The existing Nest Home Hub Max does this nifty trick with a simple front-facing camera, allowing the device to only serve up relevant bits of info based on the identity of the person standing in front of it. I could see Chromebooks leveraging facial recognition for this very thing, so that is what we could see in the Pixelbook Go at launch as well.
If you are a regular reader here at Chrome Unboxed, I’m sure you have ‘Atlas’ fatigue just like we do. We’re excited it is coming and we’re excited it is close, but we’re ready to see it and begin the review process for sure. The best news in all this is we’ll know all about The Pixelbook Go in just a couple weeks when Google unveils it to the world.