Chromebooks update automatically every six weeks to provide you with the latest features and keep the software fresh and speedy. Google just released OS 86 with a heavy focus on accessibility and most Chromebooks should be receiving it right about now if they haven’t already. It has color-changing cursors, select-to-speak improvements and much more. Normally, Chromebook users would have to go to their settings app, visit the ‘about Chrome OS’ section and then click ‘What’s New?’ to be directed to a website which would show every user facing update per release. Before that, there was really no for normal users to find out what was changed. With Chrome OS 86, however, these updates have found a new home in the Explore app!
Google recently renamed the ‘Get Help’ app to ‘Explore’ and has since been loading it with useful information for new Chromebook users. You can find it by opening the search key on your keyboard and typing in ‘Explore’. It houses pretty much all of Google Support, your Chromebook Perks or free goodies that Google periodically gives out and a sort of ‘Getting Started’ section which has lots of great tips and tricks. Before now, all of these things were spread out across the web. It’s nice to finally have them all in one clean and easy to use knowledge center. This is why it really made sense for Google to add ‘What’s New with Chromebook’ into the mix with this latest update.
When you open ‘What’s New’ from the Explore app’s left hand side panel, you’ll be met with an animated overview of changes that effect your experience with how you use your device. When an OS update occurs, there are hundreds, if not thousands of changes on the back end – minor fixes and updates to the operating system source code that really don’t matter to you as a consumer. In an effort to make the changes that do affect you more accessible, Google has separated these out from the ‘geek stuff’.
Inside of the ‘What’s New’ tab, you can scroll down to view changes at a glance. Once you get to the bottom, you can simply click ‘Show previous updates’ and it will load them in an endless wall so you can catch up on what you missed. As you can see in the screenshot below, it also shows you when the next batch of updates will be released for you to view. Now that we have OS 86, we will have to wait until January of 2021 to see more. Google also pushes a notification to your device which prompts you to see what’s new, but so far, I’ve only seen this go to the ‘About Chrome OS’ page in the settings app. If they can get it to redirect users to the Explore app, the experience would be complete.
When I worked as a Chromebook Expert in retail, I would frequently have customers ask me for a way to view a list of changes to their device. They were often times frustrated when the development team would make massive, sweeping changes like moving everyone from the old app launcher to the peeking launcher – the one we have now. It took them by surprise and while the tech savvy people adjusted to these changes immediately, those who worked in other industries and used their laptop as a utility for small, quick, daily tasks were left out in the cold to figure it out for themselves with the time they already didn’t have. Google continues to make tons of beautiful, easy to understand pages for their products and services in an effort to further simplify everything and close the gap between themselves and their target audience.