Soon You'll Be Able To Scan Documents With Your Chromebook Camera

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Google is presently working on a way to let users on some Chromebook devices use their laptop’s camera to scan documents. That’s based on a recently spotted change to the Chromium Gerrit, adding a flag in support of the feature.

Now, the new flag does not actually add the feature to the devices in question. Instead, it’s a flag setting that’s engineered to check if the hardware is compatible with the feature. And it’s also worth noting that the code making the scan of documents possible isn’t actually a part of the primary Chromebook camera app code. Instead, its enabled via the DLC framework. So it’s not going to work on every Chromebook.

However, the gist of the new feature is straightforward. It’s going to first check that the camera supports it, then enable it, and then it should work similarly to document scanning features on smartphones. Enhancing edges and text as well as any graphics that might be included on the document.


How will Google determine which Chromebooks get to scan documents?

Of course, there aren’t any indicators regarding which Chromebooks the search giant will add these features for. But it stands to reason that a requisite will be that the Chromebook needs a camera that isn’t just forward facing. Otherwise, users wouldn’t be able to see what they’re trying to scan.

Most Chrome OS gadgets, even the best among the bunch, only pack a single webcam. But some others also feature a world-facing camera. That’s enabled by the companies either putting the camera directly on the back of the Chromebook. Such as might be the case with most Chrome OS tablets and detachables. Or via a keyboard mounted camera that’s activated manually or when the device is placed in tablet orientation.

But, in any case, because of how the feature appears to be preparing for implementation, Google does appear to plan on restricting its use. At least officially.


When is this coming?

In the interim, there’s not necessarily any indicator when this feature will become available either. The source notes that it isn’t readily available in Expert mode and doesn’t appear to be active in the Chrome Canary Channel either.

The feature freeze for Chrome OS 93 has already happened, as of June 17. And the freeze for Chrome 94 is July 29. So there’s a small chance it will make an appearance in that version of Chrome, starting with the experimental Canary Channel. If it does, there’s also a chance it will land on the Stable Channel in that version. Chrome OS 94 is slated for October 14. Or it could arrive in any subsequent updates, on compatible devices.