Google's Chrome OS 76 update, pushed out a few days ago, may actually be more feature-rich than reported. The update was initially thought to contain mostly UI-based improvements and one or two usability changes. But new reports are emerging that show improvement well beyond those comparatively narrow aesthetic boundaries.
The discrepancy between the update announcements and the reported facts about the new features appears to have been caused by changes Google is implementing in how it reports its update logs for Chromebooks. Namely, the company has moved its update logs to its community forums and pushed a new page that shows users what's new. Those didn't all roll out at once or consistently — which will undoubtedly be fixed over the next several updates.
Not only does Chrome OS 76 deliver a long-awaited 'virtual desktops' feature. Additionally, the update brings cross-platform sharing features to the table that weren't expected to arrive for at least one more update. Moreover, there are new enhancements expressly for tablet-style devices running the operating system in addition to better tools for managing accounts across more than just Chromebooks.
The new features found in Chrome OS 76
The biggest features here are likely going to be those associated with virtual desktops and sharing. The first allows users to set up and operate across multiple virtual instances of Chrome OS. With "Virtual Desks," as the feature is called, users can run different apps across each of those instances. The goal of the long-expected feature is to help users better organize their desktop space whether for productivity or entertainment.
That's simple to access by tapping the 'show all windows' keyboard button and clicking the "new desk" option but expected gesture features don't appear to be in place yet.
Google's new Send to Self feature, conversely, is also designed to do exactly what its name implies. The update gives users the option to send a page to other devices they've connected to the same Google account. That means pages can be sent to Android or effectively any other running instances of Chrome across platforms. The option to do that is tucked behind a right-click on the website that needs to be shared.
Tying into that, Google has added new account management features in the Settings app under the account manager section. Now, users can view and control access and permission for both Chrome and the Google Play Store on Android or Chrome OS across every device on their account from a single place. Changes, when applied, can be implemented across all signed-in devices.
Google has also added Google Assistant across the board too with the latest update. That means users can just say "okay Google" to use the same voice actions found on Android on Chrome OS.
Slowly fixing tablets Google no longer makes in-house
Google has been hard at work fixing tablet performance and usability problems in Chrome OS. That started just before it launched its own hardware late last year with the Google Pixel Slate. In Chrome OS 76, it is continuing that, even though the company itself will no longer be making Chrome OS tablets at all for the foreseeable future.
The biggest visible fix in this update applies to a sound bug, essentially just fixing inconsistencies with touch interaction-based audio. But there are several others that appear to be in the works as well.