Chromebooks To Finally Get A Tool They Should Have Had All Along

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Chromebooks will reportedly be getting their own built-in diagnostic tool, dubbed the Diagnostic App in the Chromium Gerrit.

Of course, that's a feature that probably should have been available from the very start. And to a certain extent, it was — at least for the battery. Users could always open the Chrome OS shell. That's by opening Chrome, pressing the 'ctrl', 'alt', and 'T' keys, and then typing 'battery_test'. But this new tool will make things much better.

What is the Diagnostic App and what does it do?

As its name implies, Diagnostic App is a dedicated app for providing system information to users. It was initially added to the Canary Channel — where it still lives — as just an app icon. But there's a test UI now provided with the commits to enable the feature in code. And that gives a much deeper look at exactly what this diagnostic tool for Chromebooks will do.

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Summarily, it will provide information about the memory, CPU, and battery in a given Chrome OS gadget and its board. And that will be shown to users in a table that clearly lays out in-depth details about those. That includes details about how much of each resource is in use, laid out much more clearly than in the Task Manager.

Now, this wouldn't be much of a diagnostic app if it just showed that information without any context. As noted above, performing a battery diagnostic shows how Chromebooks are holding a charge as a percentage of the battery a given Chromebook shipped with.

That information will likely be shown in the Diagnostic app tool for Chromebooks if recent reports are any indication. But it will likely, if those are accurate, showcase the details more clearly than the shell does. Rather than a percentage, it appears as though it will show an exact measurement in terms of milliamp hours.

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The tool will also likely feature diagnostics that can be run to look more proactively for problems.

When will this diagnostic tool arrive for Chromebooks?

It isn't immediately clear when Google plans to roll out the Diagnostic App tool to Chromebooks. Or, in fact, whether it plans to roll the tool out widely at all — outside of the developer-centric channels. But because the image associated with the UI is a placeholder, intended to present the general concept instead of a finalized product, it could be quite some time before it arrives.

At the earliest, the feature might start making its way through more stable channels from Chrome 87, launching on December 1 for Chromebooks.

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Diagnostic Tool App Placeholder image from Chrome Unboxed
An early UI rendition for Diagnostics App on Chromebooks shows it does exactly what it says