Chrome OS 75 may bring more improvements than initially expected following a somewhat delayed launch and changes spotted over at Reddit which suggest Android apps for cloud services could soon have their own native directories in the Files application. Put simply, after updating to Chrome OS Dev Channel version 75.0.3770.19, Reddit user 'reiji_tamashii' noticed that at least one application, a cloud-based storage solution from Synology, now shows a synced folder within their Chromebook's file management app.
The change was later reportedly replicated in the developer channel with other storage-oriented cloud-based Android applications with the notable exception of Dropbox. The exception seems to be the result of Dropbox not fully implementing Google's DocumentsProvider API, which is used to enable the feature but the company is said to be considering adding support.
That means that users may soon be able to break free from having Google Drive as their sole cloud storage option on the web-heavy laptops and other Chrome OS hardware. More importantly, as long as the appropriate Android app is installed, the related cloud storage folder seems to appear automatically — eliminating the setup required to use some of the less-Android-friendly options that are out there.
Some of the options that have been tested with the update include Box.com's app as well as the app for Microsoft's OneDrive.
Tucked behind a flag …for now
For now, and only in the developer channel version of Chrome OS 75, the ability to work locally with secondary network-based file storage solutions appears to be tied to a single flag setting. That means that it isn't quite on by default yet and requires users to navigate to the hidden menu at 'chrome://flags' and then to enable a specific setting in order for the directories to show up in Files.
The flag in question is found under the title "ARC DocumentsProvider Integration," which ties into the abovementioned API. Switching the flag from 'Default' to 'Enabled' in the dropdown menu and then rebooting Chrome OS activates the feature. Any supported new directories should then show up underneath the Google Drive directory within the Files application.
Will this ever arrive?
There's no telling whether or not this will ultimately end up in Chrome OS 75 or whether it will be pushed back to Chrome 76. The latest version of the Dev Channel for the operating system was actually updated with a rollout starting today version 76, predominantly delivering bug and security fixes with no clear indication of any new features.
In fact, Chrome OS 75 was initially scheduled to land way back on June 11, after the June 4 update for desktop platforms — which was immediately followed by an update to the mobile browser. Although the release schedule for any of Google's updates is generally tentative at best, it is unusual for the company to hold out for quite so long or to remain mum as to the reason for a delay.
The delay appears to be related to the recent decision by Google to effectively abandon its own hardware development on Chrome OS tablets or Android tablets entirely. Despite continuing to develop fixes for bugs plaguing Chrome OS tablets and in support of future gadgets, the change in focus may have stalled some of the development on Chrome OS 75 while resources were being reallocated to account for the shift.
Google's current dashboard for Chromium releases shows the iteration to Chrome OS 76 is scheduled for August 6. That's a week after it's scheduled to land for other platforms and more than a month from today, which should leave plenty of time for Google to get things together and release an update to version 75 for Chromebook users.