Google has now officially launched Chrome OS 88, bringing some fairly heavy user-facing features such as biometric and PIN-based web sign-in and new lock screen customizations.
Of course, there are plenty of other new features with this update too. For instance, the autocorrect UI is noticeably easier to read and touchpad gestures are more consistent. The virtual desktop UI is just a bit smoother and faster as well. While accessibility features such as the magnifier have been improved in terms of ease-of-use when turned on.
But the big story for Chrome OS 88 is all about website logins and screen savers
Arguably the bigger of the two major updates for Chrome OS 88 is the ability to set a Google Assistant-inspired lock screen. In effect, Chrome OS 88 allows users to navigate to Settings, select "Personalization," and set the "Screen saver" to on. But that has a bigger impact than might be apparent at first glance.
With the screen saver turned on, users can set the display up to show pictures just like a smart display. Namely, with albums from Google Photos or Google's own galleries. The display will also showcase local weather and time information as well as any music that might be playing. In the latter case, that comes complete with the ability to pause and play or skip songs without unlocking.
Google has also now fully enabled WebAuthn. For clarity, that means that users can sign into supported sites without needing a username and password. For those sites that have WebAuthn enabled, such as Dropbox, GitHub, or Okta, users will be prompted to switch after logging in. Then, they'll be able to sign in to websites using a PIN or fingerprint scan — if their Chromebook comes with one — instead of a password.
And that'll work for 2-Step Verification too. So users can set their Chromebook up to use their PIN or fingerprint to authenticate logins where applicable. That's as opposed to an SMS code or prompt on their smartphone.
These changes are here, now
Now, Chrome OS 88 has been official since earlier in the week. So users shouldn't have to wait too long to get the new update. Those who want to check manually can navigate to the Settings app. From there, they'll need to locate "About Chrome OS" at the left-hand side of the UI and select "Check for updates."