Chrome OS 73 Update Delivers Predictable But Somewhat Uneven Changes

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Following the rollout of Chrome 73 for desktop platforms, the latest OS variant of Chrome is now beginning its rollout, bringing a wealth of managed device changes and a few user-facing changes too. That's in addition to the usual bug fixes and optimizations behind the scenes.

Some of the biggest changes in the new update have already been hinted at or outlined in previous reports. For instance, further tablet optimizations are being made here to ensure a smoother experience for 2-in-1 gadgets or dedicated tablet hardware operating on Chrome OS. The system will also go further to intelligently manage memory, alongside the addition of native media controls and an Audio Focus implementation that keeps the foremost app or window media at the forefront and mutes or pauses everything else as needed.

For developers and power users, two of the larger changes include the ability to share files and folders with Linux applications and improvements to the integration of native Drive in the Files app. Specifically, Google says it's added support for the "Drive->Computers root" in that app.

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On the opposite side of the equation, for managed Chromebooks and other Chrome OS gadgets, the update raises the 'printer cap' from 20 per unit to more than a thousand. That coincides with new alerts that have been added to notify admins about the impending removal of Chrome Supervised Users and enhanced telemetry data reports for Chrome OS devices.

Last but not least, two new Demo Mode features have been added. One of those allows for offline enrollment and setup in demo units while the other enables the switching of language settings.

Inconsistencies and the lack of a dark mode

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Ordinarily, updates to Google's browser tend to coincide with similar changes across the board — including alterations to the search giant's Chrome operating system. That seems to have not been the case with this latest set of changes with the general focus of each set on completely different goals.

The discrepancy is, in part, down to the fact that Chrome OS already had some of the features found in the latest desktop iteration. That includes the newly added picture-in-picture mode as well as much wider support for PWAs due to its cloud-based nature.

One of the most noteworthy differences may actually be much more obvious though, particularly for users who have been looking forward to less eye strain. That's because there are no dark mode changes present in the latest Stable Channel release of Chrome. While both Mac and Windows machines can now be themed to suit preferences or requirements just by changing the system level theme in either, there's still no support for Linux or Chrome.

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Android OS has begun to receive a plethora of related changes in the hidden 'flags' setting menu and Chrome OS has seen a couple of those too. But neither appears to be quite at the same level of urgency for Googlers, with regard to its implementation, as getting the features going on desktop platforms.

Don't be surprised if this takes a while to land

Although the rollout of the latest version of Chrome OS is currently underway, that process is almost never evenly spread across the ecosystem. Google's announcement of the update states that the update applies to "most" devices on the platform but as often as not, it can take several weeks before it finishes hitting every device.

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To check for the update, users simply need to navigate to the settings app, tap or click the three-dash hamburger button at the top-left-hand side of the screen, and scroll down to "About Chrome OS." Inside of that menu, a "Check for Updates" can be seen that will start the process if it's available for a given device.

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Junior Editor

Daniel has been writing for AndroidHeadlines since 2016. As a Senior Staff Writer for the site, Daniel specializes in reviewing a diverse range of technology products and covering topics related to Chrome OS and Chromebooks. Daniel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering and has a background in Writing and Graphics Design that drives his passion for Android, Google products, the science behind the technology, and the direction it's heading. Contact him at [email protected]

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