The Google Chrome OS 74 update is here, with added features targeting both consumer- and enterprise-level users, as well as additional Android and Linux support.
Notably, Chrome OS 74 offers organizational and accessibility upgrades. The OS now supports the following:
- built-in annotations and a variety of drawing tools within the Chrome PDF Viewer;
- file and folder creation under the "My files" root -- previously limited to files nested under the "Downloads" folder;
- ChromeVox developer log options to turn on logging for speech and other items; and
- sending of performance data with feedback reports when bugs or errors occur.
Chrome OS has also streamlined search for users by integrating its AI Google Assistant in the search bar to show recent apps and Google searches, making it easy to navigate the three platforms it supports. Previously, Assistant was launched independently as a floating dialogue.
Another notable update includes further Android and Linux support. Chrome OS now recognizes external USB cameras in the Android Camera app, including webcams, document cameras and microscopes. Linux apps can output audio, allowing users to hear from their Linux programs. This fixes a hole that has been present since the introduction of Linux apps; audio input is still not yet supported.
In terms of security, SafeSetID was added to the Linux kernel. This allows system services to manage and remove users without requiring powerful system privileges.
Chrome's OS updates add ease and flexibility to the Google network that might rival Microsoft Windows.
While Windows overall leads as an operating system for mobile PCs, according to StatCounter, Google Chrome dominates in the K-12 arena with Chromebook sales and is steadily making ground overall with its OS 74 release.
In 2018, Chromebooks represented 60% of mobile computer shipments for K-12 schools in the U.S., while Windows PC represented about 22%, down from 25% of shipments in 2017, according to Futuresource Consulting.
Microsoft has attempted to stay relevant in the education sector by introducing cloud-based app Intune for Education, a safe-mode OS Windows 10S and the rumored Windows Lite.