Chrome OS 83 Launch Delivers Tab Groups, Family Features & More

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Google is now officially rolling out Chrome OS 83, delivering a plethora of new features for Chromebooks and Chrome tablets. That includes some heavy-hitting additions such as tab groups and new family-related features. But some smaller changes are making their way over as well, including new AI media controls, password previews, and better virtual desk management.

The biggest of the new adjustments in Chrome is arguably going to be the new tab grouping feature. First spotted near the beginning of last year, Tab Groups does exactly what the branding implies. It allows users to right-click — using "alt" click or a two-finger click — on any open tab and create a new group. Then, any tab can be added to that group, to a new group, or left as a standalone tab.

Groups themselves can be clicked and renamed as well as re-colored. Once recolored, all tabs within a group are underlined in that same color. Clicking on the group allows further interaction such as 'ungrouping', closing, or moving a group to a new window. A click-and-drag action performed on a group will move the entire group around.

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In the future, reports have suggested and an experimental setting in Chrome's flag menu confirms, they'll also be collapsable. So they'll eventually serve to help users save a lot of space in their tab bar.

What else is new with Chrome OS 83?

In terms of productivity, there is at least one other option being added to Chromebooks with the rollout of Chrome OS 83 too. Setting aside all of the changes present in the general Chrome 83 update, users can now rename their virtual desktops in the overview mode. That's the mode that's tucked behind a three-finger swipe-up gesture, showing all open windows and apps.

In that mode, prior to the new Chrome OS features, Virtual Desks were simply named "Desk 1," "Desk 2," and so on. Now, they can be renamed to better suit whatever organizational structure users like. For instance, one group may be for work and another for entertainment. By clicking on the name in the top bar UI for desks, users can now enter a suitable name for each to fit that.

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Version 83 also tacks in the ability to preview a password or pin on the log-in page. Just like other platforms, that appears as an eye-shaped icon next to the entry space. Clicking on that lets users double-check their password or pin before hitting enter.

Conversely, for users leaning toward entertainment, media playback can now be controlled by voice. That'll work just like it does on any other Google Assistant platform too. Simply waking the AI assistant and then saying "Pause," "Next," "Resume," or "Stop" will perform the associated action.

Last but not least, Google is opening up more options from its Google for Families features. Now, parents can sign in a child account via Family Link and keep tabs on Chrome Web Store extensions and apps, including Play Store apps. For Chrome Web Store extensions and apps, parents will be able to approve or disapprove those. They can also set time limits for apps downloaded from the Play Store.

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Better still, for those with children doing schoolwork from home, parents will be able to add a school account for Family Link users.

Tab groups aren't going to be immediately available for everybody

Now, as with any Chrome update, this won't necessarily hit everybody all at once. Chromebook updates can take weeks to roll out across the board — where a device is eligible. This time around though, at least one of the features has been set aside as a server-side update that won't immediately arrive for all users. Namely, that's the Tab Groups feature.

Instead, Google says Tab Groups will be slowly rolled out over the course of a month.

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