Chrome OS may finally start seeing comprehensive video editing solution soon and at least some of those could very well be complete with support for 4K video editing too, based on a recently discovered Chromium Gerrit commit. Specifically, the commit adds hardware AVC 4K encoding for some devices built around the Intel HD Graphics 615 chip -- including those built on the 'soraka', 'eve', and 'nocturne' boards. That includes the HP Chromebook x2 and Google's own Pixelbook and Pixel Slate.
Standing on its own, the change would appear to only had the ability to encode video on the hardware in question rather than to edit videos but the commit comment also specifies the reason for the test. Namely, the commit says that "partners of video editor apps" want that 4K capability in place since it's a crucial feature for Chromebooks.
The implication is that third-party developers are looking to bring video editing over to Chrome OS in a big way but that the 4K encoding is currently holding things back. The test seems to indicate that's an issue that's soon to be rectified.
...but aren't there already apps for that?
For clarity, it's already possible for Chrome OS users to edit video and even to publish 4K resolution video on the platform, mostly taking advantage of the dozens of applications that have been brought over by Android. Linux apps and web apps can offer a similar solution too, with caveats. In each of those cases, the usefulness of associated features is significantly held back.
With Android apps, the software simply isn't optimized for larger screens or the more powerful hardware often found in premium Chromebooks -- without considering issues with the differences in architecture or components across multiple OEMs. Linux apps still require tech-savvy workarounds to get installed and working in many cases and the feature is still 'beta' on Chrome OS. Cloud apps are still not quite 'native' enough to not become bogged down by more hyper-intensive processes such as those needed for video editing.
Adding 4K native video encoding resolves those issues and the commit comment suggests that the incoming solutions are putting consideration for Chrome OS out in front -- instead of as an afterthought.
Whether or not that means developers want to bring dedicated Chromebook video editing software to the table or just better support for Chromebooks and more advanced features from Android apps remains to be seen. Under the best circumstances, this type of change could draw attention from some of the biggest names in more professionally-geared video editing. At the other end of the spectrum, it may just mean that current video editing tools work better than ever.
So when will you notice the change?
Chances are, if and when support is rolled out more widely to compatible hardware or baked directly into Chrome OS itself, users aren't going to notice a difference. The change likely won't be noted in a big way in the changelogs typically presented to the average user via Google's blogs either. Instead, the addition of video encoding will almost certainly be showcased on the developer side of the equation when it's ready to go.
That means users will notice it first when the effects of the change begin to be seen in video editing tools available on the platform. For now, that also means there's no timeline in place for that but it should equate to a reasonably big impact for those who want to use Chrome OS for video editing once it does begin to appear.