Today Google is launching Chrome OS 93 to Chromebooks, just a week after it released Chrome 93 to mobile and desktop platforms. Chromebooks have seen wild success over the last couple of years thanks to Chrome OS being reliable, secure, and easy to use, and Chrome OS 93 adds polish here and there to help you enjoy your Chromebook even more. Here are all the important features and tweaks coming with this update.
See your important files at a glance
No one enjoys diving deep into their labyrinth of directories to find their files. We’ve all taken a screenshot or downloaded a file to a computer — and struggled to find it again. That’s why Google launched Tote with Chrome OS 89, which brought your important files right at your fingertips. Tote is getting even better with Chrome OS 93, showing you three previews of recently added screenshots or downloads on the shelf. This helps you identify recent downloads and pinned files quickly without needing to click on Tote first. Later this year, Google plans on adding your file’s download status in both the shelf preview and in Tote.
Improved launcher app management
It’s been multiple years since Google revamped the app drawer for Chromebooks, replacing the aging “card” launcher with a touch-focused one. The redesigned launcher brought usability improvements to touchscreen Chromebooks, but the experience is quite unintuitive with a mouse. While Chrome OS 93 doesn’t address the issue entirely, it introduces a tweak that makes moving apps feel a lot less slippery. If you tap and hold on an app in the launcher, you’ll see a new UI that makes it easy to see where your app is going when moving it around.
See your stylus battery levels
It’s disheartening to discover that your digital pen’s battery is out of juice, especially when class is just about to start. With Chrome OS 93, your Chromebook will show the battery level of your stylus so that you’ll know when to buy that hard-to-find AAAA battery before it’s too late. Its battery will show up in your stylus settings on the taskbar, but your mileage may vary depending on your pen.
A better experience for incompatible Android apps
Android apps are notorious for their inconsistent compatibility with Chromebooks. Along with a wide range of performance issues, some Android apps are quite unstable and incur crashes, simply because the developers built them for phones and tablets. To improve stability with apps that don’t play well with Chromebooks, Chrome OS 93 will lock the window size to whatever screen the developer designed it for. For apps (like Gmail) that aren’t optimized for Chromebooks, you’ll find a new menu in the center of an app’s title bar — clicking on it will show three presets: Phone, Tablet, and Resizeable. If you select Resizeable, Chrome OS will warn you that the app may experience issues or restart.
Redesigned keyboard language settings
International users can add different keyboards on their Chromebook to change its typing language (along with using unique characters like accent marks). Chrome OS 93 makes configuring a keyboard input a lot less confusing — Chrome OS will allow you to customize it directly into system preferences instead of opening a new browser tab. The change also ditches the ancient keyboard UI for a Material Design look, too. To see the change, head over to Inputs in system preferences, then click on the small arrow in the Input methods section.
Speed up video playback
If you’re watching a lengthy video or series, the time saved by speeding it up slightly could amount up to hours, without necessarily making the content hard to understand. With the newest Chrome OS 93 update, the Chrome browser will integrate playback speed controls right into its media player to save yourself some time. While Chrome’s new video speed controls can be used on all platforms running 93 or greater, it earned a special place on this list because of the enormous amount of time it could save with long videos. Check out our Chrome 93 coverage on even more features and improvements coming to the browser.
There are a few less important but still welcome changes that are new to this release of Chrome OS:
- Picture-in-Picture gets a small tweak in Chrome OS 93, ditching its sharp edges with rounded corners. Although I wish it was a bit more round, picture-in-picture looks more modern and fits well with Chrome OS’s general design.
Rounded corners make picture-in-picture look much nicer.
- Android 11 (ARCVM) for Chromebooks gains a host of memory management improvements in this release cycle. Along with varying Android optimizations, Chrome OS will now trim RAM usage when Android apps aren’t being used or when there’s low memory. These improvements have no effect on devices running Android 9.0 or older.
- The Scan app will remember your scan settings so you don’t have to. Now, you won’t have to configure your scanning preferences every time you want to digitize your document — the app will automatically save your scan settings in Chrome OS 93.
- Linux apps for Chromebooks can now use the Chrome OS file manager to select files. Most apps use dialogs from GTK or other toolkits to open files, but with this change, it’ll allow you to launch the native file manager instead.
- The spelling and grammar check settings in system preferences received a new UI in Chrome OS 93. Similar to the redesigned keyboard language settings, the updated UI is cleaner and are easier to configure.
The spelling and grammar check settings are more organized and easier to configure.
- Admins can now enable Android apps to access Chrome OS user and device certificates. Previously, apps could only access certificates provisioned within Android, but not those in Chrome OS.
- Admins can now require regular online re-authentication to the login and lock screen. Chrome OS 93 extends re-authentication support to users of Google identity for more security, including those using 2FA like Yubikeys or SMS.
- Android 11 for Chromebooks continues to roll out at a snail’s pace. We aren’t sure what devices received Android 11 with Chrome OS 93 — we’ll update you if we find out.
Chrome OS 93 might not be the most exciting release coming to Chromebooks, but the fact is that Google no longer needs to pack a slew of new functionality into every milestone update like it used to. The core Chrome OS experience is already damn good, and Chrome OS 93 refines it even further with tweaks that make your Chromebook more enjoyable to use. There are new features to get excited about, too — look out for them when Chrome OS 93 arrives on your device today or in the coming days.