Chrome OS 70 update points to support for more hybrid devices

Google prepares Chrome OS for the Pixel Slate and possibly more Chrome-based tablets

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Google has released the newest version of its Chrome operating system, Chrome OS 70, which brings many features to increase ease of use on touchscreen devices like tablets and hybrids like the Chromebook Tab and Pixelbook.

One of the most important features in Chrome OS 70 is the inclusion of a “floating keyboard”, an optional keyboard that lets touch-screen users type. Since most Chrome OS products are laptops, or come with keyboards, its inclusion seems intended to improve compatibility with future tablet devices. This keyboard, Gboard, was previously only available on iOS devices. It can be moved and resized in Chrome OS 70, and isn’t tethered to the bottom of the screen.

Another change coming in Chrome OS 70 is an increase in icon size to make them easier to select for touchscreen users. Chrome OS icons are typically strangely small, so this change will come as a welcome improvement to all users, not just keyboardless ones.

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Other features the Chrome OS 70 update introduces include a redesign of Chrome’s Control Panel, an improved UI for the camera app, “not secure” warnings for HTTP websites, AV1 decoders, and an app shelf for pinned or active apps. While these features aren’t particularly targeted towards tablet users, they bring some much-needed changes that Chrome OS users have been asking for.

Google’s upcoming Pixel Slate is touted as being a tablet-phone-laptop hybrid, with an optional keyboard and pen, suggesting that Google sees many customers using the device as a tablet. These features of Chrome OS 70 back this assertion up, as it increases the tablet functionality of the OS. The Pixel Slate currently has no confirmed release date, but it’s expected to be available before the end of 2018.

Currently, only 33% of Chromebook devices have received the Chrome OS 70 update (as reported by Chrome Unboxed) but all compatible devices are expected to receive the update in the next few weeks.

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