Last month, a new feature appeared in the Canary channel of ChromeOS that seems to be adding native video conferencing controls for Chromebooks. The video conferencing controls are still in early development but a recent update adds even more functionality to this upcoming feature.
The video conferencing controls are nested on the ChromeOS shelf and include a button for muting your mic, disabling your camera, and sharing your screen. You get very much the same tools inside VC apps such as Google Meet, Zoom, and others but this could add global controls to the Chrome operating system that may function with any video chat interface that supports these tools. This week’s update is adding a background blur and replace feature to the VC controls.
The new feature isn’t working at the moment but it looks like ChromeOS’ native video chat controls are going to be quite robust. The ability to use a virtual or blurred background has become commonplace over the past couple of years and having it built into ChromeOS is a serious productivity enhancement. I suspect that this feature will work with a variety of popular video chat services. If so, having native controls for these features will be a big deal for users. No more poking around your VC app to find the mute button or blur your background. All the tools will be front and center on the ChromeOS shelf whenever you open a video chat.
I’ll be checking this feature with every update to see how it evolves. Currently, the camera toggle is working as you would expect it to but the background features bork the camera when enabled. As I said, work in progress. Still, I’m excited to see this feature arrive and find out which VC apps it is going to work with when it’s done. Stay tuned.