Google's update for Chromebooks and Chrome OS tablets is now shipping with version 78, bringing several features that have been expected and at least two that haven't. Detailed in the company's Keyword blog, the search giant touts at least four user-facing improvements and features.
Two of those started to arrive several updates ago but this update brings them to nearly every device. Those are virtual desktops and click-to-call. But there are also a couple of new features that many are going to find equally useful.
The first of Chrome OS's brand new additions is more of an adjustment. Now, Printers that are compatible with Chrome OS will appear in a list when users go to print without the need to set them up first. To print, or just to see the list, users just need to press the "Ctrl" and "P" keys simultaneously.
Users can also now set a default or preferred printer just by going to Printers subheading of the Settings app. Clicking the "Save" button next to the listed printer will assign it as a default printer and multiple printers can be saved for use in different work environments.
The second change with the update to Chrome OS 78 is the addition of a dedicated feedback button. Google added that to the menu for powering off, signing out, and locking a device. For clarity, that's the menu that appears after a one-second press of a Chrome OS device's physical power button. The button appears to the right of the other options and does what it says, giving users an easy way to provide feedback to Google about Chrome OS.
Virtual desks and click-to-call are finally really here in Chrome OS 78
As noted above, virtual desks and click-to-call aren't entirely unexpected. Google has been slowly ramping up the number of devices that have each feature since at least August. It first began appearing with the update to Chrome OS 76 but is being pushed to what should be every device now.
Summarily, the virtual desk feature works just like it does in other operating systems. It allows users multiple software-based "desktops" that can be used to separate open tasks and apps, keeping things from being too cluttered.
Swapping between those and opening a new one is straightforward. To see open apps and open a new desk, a tap on the overview key on the keyboard and then on the "+ New desk" button at the top-right-hand side of the UI will complete the task. Holding the "Shift" key and then pressing the "Search" and "=" keys simultaneously will also open a new virtual desktop.
Users just new to tap the overview key again and they'll be presented with a grid of all open desks for easy switching between desks. Keyboard shortcuts work there too. Pressing "Search " and "]" will swap between open desks. Pressing "Shift" and then "Search " and "]" will move the current window between the desks. Clicking and dragging works for the latter task as well and can be done from the overview page.
Click-to-call does exactly what it says too. As long as a phone and Chromebook are both syncing the same account, users will be able to send a phone number from that laptop or tablet to their mobile device. To do that, users right-click a phone number in-browser and "Call from" their phone. That will send a notification to start the call to the selected device.
So what else is new?
The update undoubtedly delivers in terms of security and bug patches as well. But Google hasn't detailed what those changes might be just yet. Typically, Google reserves that information for the "Chrome Releases" Google blog and that hasn't been supplied yet.
The company hasn't updated it's relatively new "What's New" page either. That's a web page dedicated to user-facing changes arriving in Chrome OS.
One other feature that's arriving more widely with Chrome OS 78 but not implicated in the Keyword post is tab previews. Now, when users hover over an opened tab, a full Material Design 2.0 card will show instead of a tiny hint. That showcases the page's title and URL more clearly, making it easier to manage tabs when there are a lot of tabs open.