One of the biggest announcements from this year's Google I/O related to the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, but this was far from being all there was to get excited about. Microsoft may be increasingly embracing Linux in Windows 10, and Google is doing the same with Linux on Chromebooks.
Support for Linux apps on Chromebook is nothing new, but Google has now announced that all Chromebooks that launch from this point forward will be fully functional Linux laptops, regardless of whether they are ARM or Intel devices.
Google has added full USB support for Linux apps in the dev build of Chrome OS 75. The new feature arrived in build 75.0.3759.4 of the operating system and helps to improve the experience of running Linux apps on a Chromebook.
While USB support is not a brand-new feature, anyone who has tried using Linux apps on a Chromebook will be well aware that it has been a bit, well, ropey to say the least. Now this changes.
Acer announced a bunch of new products today, including many Windows machines. While I am sure those computers running Microsoft's desktop operating system are fine, they don't really excite me. Instead, it is Acer's Linux-based Chromebooks that get my engine running. The company has been cranking out great Chrome OS laptops for many years, and they have proven to be a great value for consumers.
Today, Acer unveils a pair of new elegant Chromebooks. Called "714" and "715," the former has a 14-inch display while the latter is 15.6-inch. Both machines have fingerprint readers, aluminum bodies, 12-hour battery life, and can be configured with 8th generation Intel Core processors (Pentium and Celeron models will be available too). The larger 715 has something the 714 doesn't -- a number pad, which apparently is a first for any Chromebook. The 714 has slimmer bezels, however. Best of all, they are both designed to be rugged and withstand abuse.
Chromebooks have fared far better than many people would have first thought when they first appeared on the market, and Google's Chrome OS is going from strength to strength. While not yet ready to topple either Windows or macOS, the operating system continues to gain features that make it increasingly appealing.
One addition that is on the horizon and likely to please many users and potential users alike is virtual desktops. This is something we have heard about before in relation to Chrome OS, but a recent commit to the Chromium Gerrit shows that "virtual desks" are being worked on -- and there's even a video showing off the feature.
Many home consumers don't really need Windows anymore. With so many things being web-based nowadays, it is much wiser to opt for the more secure Linux-based Chrome OS. Not satisfied with only using web-based solutions? Chromebooks can now run Android apps too, giving the user a huge library of quality apps. In addition, Google is currently testing the ability to run traditional Linux programs on Chrome OS. Even though the feature is technically in beta, it works wonderfully -- I have successfully installed and used GIMP, for instance.
Since more and more consumers are choosing Chrome OS, computer manufacturers are increasingly offering quality Chromebooks. In other words, these laptops are no longer just meant to be low cost. With that said, there is no reason a great Chromebook can't be affordable, and today, Acer unveils a beautiful such product. Called "Chromebook 315," the 15.6-inch laptop is powered by AMD's excellent APUs (a combination CPU and GPU). So yes, this is a Chromebook with Radeon graphics! There are three display options from which to choose, with one of them offering touch -- a nice option for Android apps. The top-firing speakers should make it great for consuming media too.
Chrome OS has slowly become one of the most promising operating systems. What began life as a "glorified web browser" has grown to also run Android apps and traditional Linux programs. At the same time, Windows 10 has declined in quality, causing many users to lose faith in Microsoft's operating system. For education in particular, school districts are increasingly turning to Google's Chromebooks rather than devices running Windows 10.
Today, ASUS unveils four new Chrome OS devices for the education market. Three of them (C403, C204, and Flip C214) are laptops, with one of them (the Flip) being a convertible -- meaning it can fold into a tablet. In addition, there is a traditional tablet (CT100). While Chrome OS tablets are fairly unproven, the ability to run Android apps makes them quite useful.
Google is taking steps to make it easier to not only pair Bluetooth headphones and speakers to your Android phones, but also to make it easier to user the same Bluetooth hardware with multiple devices.
The Fast Pair feature was announced last year, and now Google has teamed up with numerous audio companies to not only improve support, but also to use Google accounts as a means of simplifying the process of using the same headphones and speakers with multiple phones -- and, as of next year, Chromebooks.
For many consumers, Windows 10 is total overkill. If most (or all) of your tasks are web-based, a Chromebook is probably a much better option. After all, the Linux-based Chrome OS is fast and stable, while also being extremely secure. Why bother with all the malware and lag of Windows if you don’t have to?
Today, a company called Sector 5 launches a new Chromebook model. Called "E3," it has an attractive design, decent specs, plenty of ports, and an affordable asking price. Best of all, it supports both Android apps and traditional Linux desktop programs too.
While many people use Windows 10 every day, I sometimes wonder how many actually enjoy doing so. Look, Microsoft's operating system is very popular, but that could be largely out of habit. The interface is very inconsistent, and with aggressive telemetry, it can feel like you are being spied on too. Computers running Microsoft's OS are prone to malware, and even worse, users could find their important files deleted! Hell, even the Surface hardware feels uninspired these days. Once people start looking at alternatives, such as the excellent Linux-based Chromebooks, they may wonder why they need Windows 10 at all.
For education in particular, many schools find Chromebooks safer and easier to manage. Not to mention, they can be quite cost effective too. So it should come as no surprise that a major country has chosen Chromebooks over Windows 10 devices for education. What is the country of which I speak? New Zealand. You see, all public schools there now have access to Chrome Education licenses.
Windows 10 has been a dumpster fire lately, but thankfully, Microsoft's OS stranglehold on the consumer PC business is dramatically diminishing. These days, many consumers would be better served by purchasing a MacBook or Chromebook rather than a laptop running the less-secure Windows. True, Apple's computers are expensive, but luckily, laptops running Chrome OS can be quite affordable. Chromebooks are shockingly capable too -- especially since Android app support was added.
Just as Samsung manufactures excellent smartphones running Google's Android operating system, it also makes quality laptops running the search giant's Linux-based Chrome OS. The Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 is one of the nicer Chromebooks, and today, the company unveils a new variant. The hardware stays the same, except for one addition -- LTE compatibility. In other words, the Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 (LTE), as it is called, is fully functional without Wi-Fi -- just add a mobile data plan!
Google is in the process of rolling out Chrome OS 69 to the stable channel, giving more users the chance to enjoy the new Material Theme and take advantage of new features such as support for Linux apps.
The updated look will be familiar to Android users -- rounded corners abound -- and there are numerous other changes and additions including a new Night Light mode, better dictation options, and an updated Files app.
The prospect of running Linux apps on a Chromebook is something that has many people excited since Google first announced the plans.
For those who like to live on the edge with the Canary and Dev builds of Chrome OS, Linux apps are already a reality -- but what about everyone else? While we know that Linux app support is coming to a range of Chromebooks from Lenovo, Acer, Dell and others, a post on the Chromium Gerrit reveals that devices running Linux 3.14 or older will miss out.
Google could be about to add Windows 10 support to a range of Chromebooks, according to a new leak.
The appearance earlier in the year of a new project called Campfire showed that Google was working on bringing Windows 10 support to Pixelbooks. But now it seems that the option to dual boot Chrome OS and Windows 10 could spread to a wider range of Chromebooks.
Tablets running Chrome OS are actually a thing now, as the Chromebook Tab 10 shows us. While that device is mostly aimed at education, it's only a matter of time before companies offer similar devices for business and personal use too. Since Chrome OS can run Android apps now, some people expect it to replace Android on tablets in the future. I'm not yet sold on that concept -- I still prefer Android running Chrome rather than Chrome running Android, but I'll keep an open mind.
The biggest problem with Chrome OS tablets -- especially for education -- is the lack of a physical keyboard. The Chromebook Tab 10, for instance, is just a tablet -- it does not come with a detachable keyboard. Well, Belkin aims to solve this with the all-new Wired Tablet Keyboard with Stand. As the name implies, it is a USB-C keyboard that props up the tablet for a laptop-like typing experience. In addition, the company unveils a similar keyboard without the stand. That product will work with tablets too, although it is probably better suited for a USB-C enabled Chromebook (when connected to a monitor as a desktop), Chromebase, or Chromebox.
When people say Chromebooks are glorified web browsers, do not listen to them. Haters are going to hate, but the truth is, laptops running Google's Linux-based Chrome OS are highly capable. In fact, the vast majority of home users would be perfectly fine forgoing Windows and choosing a Chromebook instead. Heck, even many businesses would find Chrome OS to be a delight.
Today, Samsung announces its latest such laptop -- the premium, yet affordable, Chromebook Plus (V2). This is a refresh of the first-gen "Plus" model. It can run Android apps and doubles as a convertible tablet, making it very versatile. Best of all, you won't have to wait long to get it -- it will go on sale very soon.