Following on the heels of Chrome 67 for desktop, Google has released Chrome OS 67, adding improved support for PWAs, new form factors, and more.
The steady pace of Chrome OS improvements collectively represents what I’ve said is a clear and present danger to Windows 10. As this platform gets more and more sophisticated, the reasons for ignoring it get, in turn, more and more obsolete. Those who still believe Chrome OS is a glorified online-only web browser are woefully out-of-date. And need a wake-up call.
With Chrome OS 67, Google is taking a giant leap forward into the future.
First, and most important in my view, you can now install Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) as stand-alone apps. As I’ve seen in Chrome 67 on Windows (after manually enabling various PWA-related flags in chrome://flags), this behavior varies a bit by app, which I suspect is related to their manifest file. But it works great overall already.
And here’s a real-world example of how this changes things. Now, when I click on a YouTube link, the YouTube PWA opens in its own window rather than in a tab or the current window. Thanks to PWA support, YouTube is now an app on both Windows and Chrome OS. (And, probably, on Mac and Linux too.)
Chrome OS 67 also supports new Chromebook form factors like tablets and detachables in a more sophisticated fashion. It provides a split screen mode for web and Android apps when used in tablet mode, detachable base swap detection, touch-friendly (and Android-like) power and quick settings interfaces, and more.
Here’s the (curiously incomplete) list of improvements that Google notes for this release.
- Android Debug Bridge support over USB in developer mode
- Progressive Web Apps can now be installed as stand-alone apps
- Extend Chrome page zoom to Google Play Apps
- Visual update for ext4 filesystem migration
- Feedback reports on sign-in screen
- Cleaner improved Bluetooth list
- Touchable material 2.0 Chrome for tablet devices
- Select-to-Speak ability to select specific text to be read aloud
- Inline touchable folders in launcher
- Split Screen support in Tablet mode
- Support for zipping files on Drive via the Files app
- Power menu shortcuts when holding the power button
- Detachable base swap detection
- Security fixes, including rolling out Site Isolation to a larger percentage of the stable population and Spectre variant 2 fixes for ARM devices on 4.4 kernels.