Google is finally pushing out its Chrome OS update to version 76 starting today and that's bringing some significant changes to the operating system across the board. The most prominent of those noted in recent reports but not necessarily by Google are interface changes.
That means that unlike many prior Chrome OS updates, most of the alterations are going to be readily noticeable by end-users.
User-facing changes in Chrome OS 76
The biggest of those include a new method for installing web apps and a new media player interface.
The former change, as highlighted prior to the update, adds a dedicated button for websites that are optimized for installation as progressive web apps (PWAs). Placed within the URL Omnibox, the button is shaped like a "plus" icon alongside the word "Install."
A click or tap on the button brings up a card-shaped interface to complete the process.
For media playback directly from Chrome, the notification shade located to the right-hand side of the shelf alongside notifications. The card now not only shows where the media playback is coming from. It will now showcase controls just like those surfaced by Android apps.
The theming of the controls will be decided by the media in question. If the media being streamed is music, that will now show font and background colors taken from the official artwork. The top row of the UI shows where the media is playing from.
Google has made adjustments to the stock Camera UI too. Namely, Google has brought the camera application in line with AOSP. The Photo, Video, and Portrait mode switcher is now a column to the right side of the app while other UI elements have been moved to the left. A gallery preview element has been placed next to the shutter button.
While not a UI change, the last Chrome OS-specific change implemented by Google is a new accessibility feature. Called Automatic Clicks, that enables hover actions with the mouse to mimic click actions, making the OS easier to use for those with motor or dexterity challenges.
Changes brought over from desktop
The final major UI change to be noted with the update to Chrome OS 76 is one that was already seen with the desktop version of Chrome. Namely, the settings menu no longer shows a three-dash menu to the top-left-hand side of the interface. Instead, all of the various settings categories and subsections are laid out to the left in their own scrollable pane.
Other changes have, of course, been brought over from desktop Chrome as well. To begin with, Chrome will no longer utilize the 'escape' key as a 'user interaction' key on websites. So malicious or otherwise abusive practices tied to user interaction requirements can no longer be kickstarted by users attempting to stop a page from loading.
The overwhelming majority of websites won't be able to detect when a user is in Chrome's Incognito mode either. After updating, going incognito will no longer enable sites to restrict access based on that fact.
Changes have been made to both desktop Chrome and Chrome OS to make things more secure under the hood.