We had official word arrive from Google this morning and are already hearing murmors of Chromebook Plus showing up for certified devices that happen to be in the Beta Channel of ChromeOS 118. As we highlighted previously, there are quite a few devices on the market already that qualify as Chromebook Plus, and the date for the transition of those Chromebooks is set to start on October 17th.
Among the devices are the excellent Acer Chromebook 516 GE, the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook, the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 and many more. And if you would like a bit of an early preview of Chromebook Plus right now, you can transition over to the Beta Channel and get your upgrade nearly a week before Google is set to begin the official roll-out.
For those unaware, the move to the Beta Channel of ChromeOS isn’t terribly difficult. But before you head there, please note that moving back to the Stable Channel – while equally simple – will wipe out your locally-stored files and content. As long as you understand this, feel free to proceed with very little caution. The Beta Channel gives you a nice look at future features a bit early and comes with far fewer bugs and issues compared to the Developer or Canary Channels of ChromeOS.
To get there, simply open your Settings app and go to About ChromeOS > Additional details > Channel > Change channel > Beta Channel. After selecting this, your device will begin the download of ChromeOS Beta and after it is done and installed, you’ll be prompted to restart and get going in the new, updated Beta of ChromeOS 118.
Chromebook Plus welcome
The upgrade is a subtle one, but after you’ve hopped over to the ChromeOS Beta Channel, the next time you log in, you should be met with a small notification (pictured up top) that lets you know the upgrade has happened. With a small graphic and an explanation of what to expect, the pop-up is simple, clear, and just there to let you know the transition happened.
So, what does this mean for you right now? It’s not a major transition at this point, but you do get access to Google Photos features like Magic Eraser (though some accounts had this on Chromebooks prior) and you’ll have access to the new AI-driven video call controls the next time you hop in a meeting. It’s quite nice to be able to mute, kill the camera, apply background blur, noise cancellation, and improved studio lighting right on your device: no need for the service (Meet, Zoom, Teams, FaceTime, etc) to offer it.
You’ll also get a few Chromebook Plus exclusive wallpapers and screensavers that change throughout the day to match the time. As your day progresses, so will your wallpaper and your screensaver if turned on. For now, there are only 2 of these, but expect this space to rapidly expand in the near future.
AI-powered experiences are coming to Chromebook Plus
In the coming weeks, this Chromebook Plus upgrade will really begin to stretch its legs with some really fun perks like AI wallpapers and generative AI suggestions on a system level that can be leveraged anywhere in the OS there’s a text input field.
Imagine tasking AI with creating a one-of-a-kind wallpaper for you out of thin air or right-clicking in your latest Tweet and asking your Chromebook Plus device to help you write a better bit of content on the fly. When these perks arrive (soon), they’ll be quite formative, I believe, and they’ll make owning one of these Plus devices truly special. And from what we’re hearing, the ChromeOS team is just getting started.
For now, however, enjoy the new video features and a few exclusive perks. And if you really want to feel the deeper effect of this new Chromebook Plus branding, perform a Power Wash on your device and go through the entire OOBE (out of box experience) to see how thoughtfully put together this upgraded Chromebook Plus software really is. It’s a nice touch that is really well done and – I hope – a sign of things to come in this space.