Google just posted about the latest Chrome OS update over on their official blog. We’ve known for awhile that a new emoji picker and eSim compatibility were coming to Chromebooks. Now, both of those things are officially coming in the Chrome OS 92 stable build.
Google previewed the new emoji picker last month, and now you can access it on your Chromebook with the latest update. In addition, Google also officially announced that the Meet Progressive Web App (PWA) will be preinstalled on Chromebooks going forward. There were a few other interesting tidbits, so let’s dive into everything in a bit more detail.
Improved video on Chrome OS
Video calling is a big deal these days. With the importance of working from home amid the global pandemic, you need reliable calling solutions on your Chromebook. Now, Google Meet is getting performance enhancements for faster video calling. The app will also be preinstalled on Chromebooks going forward. From the Google blog post:
With Chrome OS’s latest update, Google Meet will be pre-installed on all Chromebooks, so it’s easy to launch into the app and get on a video call right from the Launcher. Google Meet includes exciting features, like video backgrounds, that make meetings more inclusive and fun. We’ve also made performance improvements like adapting video calls to different network conditions and adjusting video performance during screen sharing.
Keep in mind that Google also recently partnered with Zoom to improve the performance of their video calling platform in a new PWA for Chromebooks as well. You now have a plethora of great options for video calling thanks to the latest Chrome OS update.
New emoji picker
If you use your Chromebook for messaging, you’re definitely using emoji. Until now, emoji selection on a Chromebook was somewhat inconvenient. To bring Chrome OS more in line with the mobile experience for messaging, Google unveiled an all new emoji picker for your Chromebook.
To use the new emoji picker, use the keyboard shortcut (Search or Launcher key + Shift + Space) to bring it up. From there, you can see your recently used emoji and scroll to discover others. With a click, the perfect emoji is inserted into a conversation, document, or any text field on your Chromebook. You can also search for emoji inside the picker, just as you would on an Android phone.
eSim support on Chrome OS
Over the past few years, eSim has become more widespread in the smartphone landscape. Google is now bringing that same great capability to LTE or 5G-enabled Chromebooks. From the Google blog post:
Chrome OS now supports eSIM for cellular connectivity. With eSIM, you can download and switch between carrier profiles without having to insert or remove a physical SIM card from your laptop. This will be particularly helpful if you need to connect to a cellular network but can’t run to the store for a SIM card, and for international travelers who frequently switch between networks.
Keep in mind that there aren’t that many cellular-enabled Chromebooks out there right now. You’ll need one of the few capable models to make use of eSim on the latest Chrome OS update
New Togetherness wallpapers and Explore app additions
Lastly, Google announced a new collection of wallpapers called Togetherness and a few modifications to the Chrome OS Explore app. The wallpaper collection comes our way from three prominent Black artists: Aurelia Durand, Sabrena Khadija and Meech Boakye. To try them out, just right-click your desktop and choose “Set wallpaper,” then select “Togetherness.”
The Explore app now includes a digital magazine for kids, available for users of Google’s Family Link service. Each issue of the magazine focuses on educational content that kids will also find fun. You can find the new magazine under the Discover tab in the Explore app.
That’s pretty much everything Google announced today over on the Chrome OS blog. There’s a few really exciting features for those that use Chromebooks daily, and there’s a lot more to come this year as gaming will get more interesting when official Steam support arrives, hopefully before the end of 2021.