Chrome OS 69 Brings New Look, Linux App Support

Posted on September 18, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Chromebook, Chrome OS with 71 Comments

Chrome OS 69 is available publicly today for the first time, bringing the same Material Design Refresh that we saw in the Chrome web browser last month. This release also includes Linux app support on select Chromebooks and other new features.

“The Stable channel has been updated to 69.0.3497.95 (Platform version: 10895.56.0) for most Chrome OS devices,” Google’s Chrome Releases blog blandly announced today. “This build contains a number of bug fixes and security updates. Systems will be receiving updates over the next several days.”

The most obvious new feature is the Material Design Refresh, which adds curved user interface elements through the system, including the browser tabs and address bar, the notification pane, the slide-up Apps pane, and more. But Chrome OS 69 also includes other improvements. A limited range of Chromebooks can now run Linux apps. Other new features include:

  • Files app UI refresh with new support for accessing Play files
  • Native support for Team Drives in Files app
  • Save Play app files directly to Files app via the share sheet
  • Dictation into any text field, a new feature in accessibility settings
  • Power state alerts for Kiosk apps
  • Global text-to-speech settings
  • Night Light
  • Fast Access to Emojis
  • OOBE visual improvements
  • Swipe to close apps in Overview
  • Tablet mode behavior unification
  • Video capture service
  • Fixes for the L1TF and Foreshadow vulnerabilities


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Comments (71)

71 responses to “Chrome OS 69 Brings New Look, Linux App Support”

  1. Jorge Garcia

    The wonkiness that exists between the files from ChromeOS and the files from Android Apps is one of the only things holding me back from going all in on ChromeOS for my laptop needs. I would much rather they have forked Android itself into a variant with a desktop-like interface, not unlike Samsung's DeX, but from Google itself. If I were HP or Dell, I'd be working on my own version of Android to put on my laptops, because a lot of people don't need a hardcore OS on the run, they just want their Apps on a larger screen and a nice keyboard. If someone (other than Best Buy with their very low-end Insignias) could make a decently spec'd ($400) laptop running just Android, I'd slap Sentio's desktop skin app on it and be done with it.

    • skane2600

      In reply to JG1170:

      AYK, I don't believe that approaches like DeX will be successful, but I did see a TV commercial for it for the first time a few days ago.

      • Jorge Garcia

        In reply to skane2600:

        I actually agree that DeX won't be a runaway success, and neither will any other flavor of it from another manufacturer - even though I personally, selfishly, and unreasonably do wish that Dell and/or HP would go down a similar road than Samsung (I do think Lenovo will copy). That being said, I strongly believe that had Google never made ChromeOS and simply contorted Android into something that vaguely resembles Windows to the average user (only when installed on the right form-factor devices, of course) but runs ALL the mobile Apps people know and love...that indeed would have been quite popular. Yes, almost all apps would be terribly un-optimized (at first) but I argue that people wouldn't sweat it too much, as long as the functionality is there, which being Android of course it would be. With mass adoption, I'm sure the big app makers would tweak their Apps to better accommodate the keyboard and potential mouse. Those few that really dislike the initial clunkiness would always have the option to open up Chrome and see if the web interface is more appealing. I understand why Google went down the road of ChromeOS, but I think they muddied the waters to their own detriment and confused a wide swath of "more simple" consumers in the process.

  2. locust infested orchard inc

    Having read the 18 or so comments prior to sharing my thoughts (wrongly or rightly, you decide), along with the wide consensus of opinion elsewhere, that many people seem to believe Chrome is the gateway to the internet, whilst Google is custodian of the internet.

    Google has become so pervasive in the minds of us all, such that any innovation Google brings out has a considerable chance of gaining traction.

    One of the commenters here, jprestig, shared an all too familiar anecdote where his/her 10 year old daughter has to question the availability of Chrome on Windows 10. But why Chrome ? Admittedly I have little affection for Edge, and have never liked its predecessor, IE. But what's wrong with Firefox (yeah OK, before Quantum was released Firefox was a memory hog, but it still performed admirably), it is ultra-customisable, making browsing and researching (for even the mundane things in life) efficient.

    If one has a preference over the rendering engine within the internet browser, then there are other Blink-based browsers other than Chrome – besides Firefox Quantum, notably there's Opera and Vivaldi, and Vivaldi is in my opinion a superb browser that I would urge all to test for themselves.

    With the World firmly entrenched in a mobile-centric era, in a post-desktop PC environment neither Opera or Vivaldi can have any hope of gaining a double-digit browser share.

    Furthermore, with the advent of the smartphone occupying the bulk of our computing time, people are less inclined to customise and configure the computing space they use, for it is either expected, or not seeing the need to perform the customisation of one's phone, because with both iØS and Android the devices work out of the box.

    Until Microsoft can release a device that can finally supplant the humble smartphone in its current form from our daily lives, I cannot see either Chrome or Android going anywhere soon.

    Both the landline telephone and video recorder had a huge impact on our lives, yet they did decline after having been replaced by something better. I am therefore encouraged by the cyclical nature of technology that not in the too distant future, both Google and its products Chrome and Android, shall witness a sharp decline, consigning themselves to the annals of history.

    • jdmp10

      In reply to locust infested orchard inc:

      Google's grip on what many view as the gateway to the internet is stronger than any company ever has been. Google's approach versus the monopoly Microsoft had with IE in its heyday is that Google's products for the most part work well and are generally liked and preferred by many over it's competitors. Of course this isn't an accident, Google learned that if Android is intended to be the mobile data siphon to feed the ad machine that is Google, the product has to be compelling and offer benefits that only a company with Google's internet information library can offer. Facebook with it's over 2B users still doesn't have as much user and internet data that Google has and they are the closest 2nd to Google we have.

      Without government intervening to chop down a bit of the largest Sequoia tree this side of Yosemite, aka Google, I don't see an end in sight for the absolute domination they have over desktop and mobile browser use, everyone else is just fighting for scraps, mostly the tinfoil types that think because they aren't using a Google browser that there whereabouts and internet activities aren't being monitored.

      • skane2600

        In reply to jdmp10:

        IE was the dominant browser on the PC but its influence beyond that was fairly limited. Sure a few web sites didn't want to bother with niche browsers and so would say "best with Internet Explorer", but the fear that IE's dominance would lead to MS dominating the Internet was never credible and history proves it wasn't.

        Google's influence to the web is a lot greater, but it's worth remembering that you don't need Chrome to use most of Google's web services.

  3. eric_rasmussen

    One of the things I've been wondering is whether or not Blazor would work on ChromeOS... It's just WebAssembly, so I assume it would work, but writing Chrome OS apps with C# would be awesome.

    If I could integrate with App Center and use VS Code to do Xamarin development from ChromeOS I would.

  4. Rob Currier

    I am finding Chrome OS more and more interesting over time. I am seriously considering a Chrome OS laptop the next time I look to upgrade my wife's laptop. She mostly does stuff on the web, and updates on Chrome OS would be a lot less frustrating for her, less headache for me.

  5. dcdevito

    Having the ability to run Android apps and Linux desktop apps, and in a couple weeks Windows 10 entirely (we'll see) is incredible. I have to say, Chromebooks would go from "just a browser" to the most flexible and robust platform.

  6. longhorn

    There will never be native support for Linux apps on Chrome OS. Chrome OS lacks both the new Wayland protocol and the old X display server. So there will be some kind of emulation layer. I'm thinking Linux apps are going to be huge in size and run poorly.

    Fuchsia is the future for Google, but it will take a long time.

    • My Hell baby speaking

      In reply to longhorn:

      Try for yourself. My Acer 15 although not a particular beast of a machine (Pentium N4200, 8GB) is running Linux programs just great. No difference with Gimp and LibreOffice compared to my i7 Thinkpad. Only complaint is, that file space for the Linux container is seperate from $HOME on my CB. This is a beta however and I expect this to be fixed with the coming releases.

      Performance wise and stability wise this is a banger.

  7. Joshua Manring

    One goes up every year, one goes down.

  8. Bats

    I don't know what time, Thurrott posted this, but today at about 5:15pm I just bought an Acer 15" Spin Chromebook at Best Buy for my mom. I showed it to her, she smiled, and started using it right away. That would never....EVER.....happen with a Windows PC. If I had to buy her a Windows PC, as a dutiful son (lol), I would have to install an antivirus, ant-malware, Chrome browser.....*sigh*..... printer drivers, download Chrome browser.....*sigh*..... yada yada yada. However, being an AWESOME son, I bought her this large Chromebook (my mom has a hard time seeing things) and everything is ...all set. Even the printer (Google Cloud Print) is all set. I didn't even have to do a thing to set that up.

    Why can't effin Microsoft do the same effin thing? They should. Windows 10 PCs are clearly dying.

    • Daekar

      In reply to Bats:

      You're describing the old Windows experience. You haven't had to do all that since Windows 10 came out.

    • My Hell baby speaking

      In reply to Bats:

      Very true - the Win10 update process alone with hours wasted and the chain of reboots is a joke for an os in the 21st century. For someone like me who is familiar with Linux/*BSD and less with Windows this is a frightening thing to attend. Not to mention for $MOM.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Bats:

      Well, if you already own a Google Cloud Print printer than minimal configuration is required, but most home users don't own one. If you don't own such a printer, the path to printing on a Chromebook is far, far more complicated than it is on Windows assuming you can get it to work at all.

      Downloading Chrome on Windows is certainly an option, but isn't a necessary step to successfully run Windows and use the Internet. Likewise third-party antivirus isn't a necessity to run Windows or stay secure.

    • jrickel96

      In reply to Bats:

      Over 700 million Windows 10 installs. Over 1.5 Billion Windows installs.

      10-15 million ChromeOS installs.

      Yeah, Windows PCs are dying.

      You said download Chrome browser twice.

      For the average person, Windows has antivirus protection built in. The printers are discovered automatically in the modern world - you don't need to download anything. Printing on ChromeOS is terrible. Frankly Windows is far more advanced for printing than Chrome or Mac.

      I'm glad it works for her. It won't work for most people that use the machine for productivity. That's why ChromeOS is dying and they are adding emulation layers to try to make it more appealing in some way.

      • My Hell baby speaking

        In reply to jrickel96:

        I have printed from Android with far better results and with less (means nil) technical hiccups - other than from Win10. Now I print with the same great results I had with Android from ChromeOS using the Android printer service and a vendor's printing app. Printing on Android and ChromeOS is awsome.

    • pargon

      In reply to Bats:

      Sounds like you're describing windows 7. Print drivers take a couple minutes to install manually, windows usually finds the wifi printer automatically upon a fresh install and then uses windows update to download and install the printer.

      Anti-virus usually causes more issues than it's worth now days, Windows defender works great. Chrome take all of 2 minutes from download to sign in with your account and sync all settings. These are all non has never been so simple to setup and be off and running.

      Sure, if you're one of those that hates on Microsoft's telemetry but freely gives all their data to Amazon, Google or apple, it would take another 10 minutes to change those settings and set a desktop background and color to finish up the look and feel of the OS.

      • Stooks

        In reply to Pargon:

        If you have a problem with the basic telemetry in Windows 10 and go to ChromeOS because of that issue, you are a special kind of stupid.

        Yesterday I pulled a Samsung SSD out of a Ryzen 2700 system we have in our lab. I moved it over to a another system we built that has a 8700k in it. Same video card in each (1050ti). I booted it up and it sat at a "Detecting New Hardware" screen or whatever it said for about 4 min and then finished booting up perfectly fine into Windows 10 Enterprise. All hardware had been detected and drivers installed.

        Windows 10 is not perfect but it is IMHO the best Windows to date.

      • Tony Barrett

        In reply to Pargon:

        Chromebooks are still 100x easier and quicker than ANY Windows version. Less pain all round, updates and reboots are pretty much instant and things just work. No crashes, no long waits for patches (download and applying). No complex settings or disk space worries. IT JUST WORKS, and for a large percentage of people, a web browser is all they need. Now most Chromebooks can run Android apps too, Windows just doesn't mean much any more.

  9. Truffles

    In 2yrs ChromeOS could easily be the default OS install on every low to mid-range portable and in 4yrs it'll be knocking on the door of the enterprise. It'll be an interesting test of whether MS is serious about its platform agnostic policy - will it release Office for ChromeOS even if doing so will ultimately help ChromeOS devour consumer facing Windows OS?

    • MikeCerm

      In reply to Truffles:

      Microsoft already has Office in the Play Store, and it works fine in Chrome OS, or you can use the web version. There's no way that Microsoft could bring the full desktop version of Office, unless they made a Linux port, which I just cannot imagine.

      • Tony Barrett

        In reply to MikeCerm:

        If you must, Office365 or the free Office Online works fine in ChromeOS. With a seismic shift to the browser - where exactly does that leave Windows for the average consumer who has no need for power apps? You don't need 'full' Office for 99% of people. Google Docs or Word Online do everything most will ever need? Why spend >£1000 on a laptop that you spend almost all your time on in a browser, when a <£500 device will do the same - faster and more secure?

        • skane2600

          In reply to ghostrider:

          Where did you get the idea that Chromebooks are cheaper than Windows laptops? Chromebooks can't beat on price because they are using the same standard set of components and devices that everybody uses. This was the fatal flaw that alternative platforms have suffered from since the days of Sun and Oracle's "network computers".

    • VancouverNinja

      In reply to Truffles:

      Chrome OS is going nowhere fast. Thinking it will ever over take Windows is Ridonkulous. Too little too late.

      At 1% of the current market share it has no hope of even existing in 4 years from now. You are witnessing the last efforts of a failed OS. It was DOA from the start.

      • Bats

        In reply to VancouverNinja:

        1% market share? Chrome browser is used by practically everyone in the world and Chrome OS is nothing more than Chrome Browser on steroids.

        You clearly have sour grapes.

      • PeteB

        In reply to VancouverNinja:. Chrome OS is going nowhere fast. 

        Hahaha.. the last gasps of dying MS fanboys that know the world has changed and the future isn't MS

        • VancouverNinja

          In reply to PeteB:

          Back it up with facts. It is a dead platform.

        • VancouverNinja

          In reply to PeteB:

          Microsoft is killing it with Windows 10.

          Chrome OS has no user base and must doesn't compare to either Windows 10 or OSX. No one wants it.

          However maybe you can post some Chrome OS user stats to prove otherwise?

          • jprestig

            In reply to VancouverNinja:

            My 10 year old has never had to ask me questions about Chrome OS or iOS. When she hops on Windows 10 though, there's almost always a question if Chrome isn't already installed. Why? Because her school only uses Chromebooks and iPads. These kids are the future, and they aren't being brought up on Windows devices.

            • ChristopherCollins

              In reply to jprestig:

              How many computers are in your house? For a 10 year old to be PC hopping that much (especially encountering so many rare PC's without Chrome) seems odd.

            • VancouverNinja

              In reply to jprestig:

              And your child will not be using a Chromebook, most likely after grade 5. All kids end up being switched to Windows or Macs. What you are saying is what Google has been trying to convince the world of for years and it is not occurring.

              Now with Surface Go's expect to see Chromebooks slow down, in K-5 market share, turn into a market share loss over the next 12 - 18 months. After almost 8 years you would think its pretty clear the future is not bright for Chrome OS. ;-)

              Google is planning to ditch Chrome OS but until it happens they are continuing to try and keep a 1% market (actually less than 1%) product alive. Its pathetic actually.

            • Stooks

              In reply to jprestig:

              Actually you are wrong. If you go over to statcounter or w3schools, ChromeOS has actually lost market share in 2018. Both of those sites are tracking less than 1% (.2% and .6%). down from a max of 1.3%.

              I have 3 kids and at their grade school they used Chromebooks/Google Apps. All of them are now out of grade school and their high schools use Windows 10 computer with Office 365/Onedrive etc. They are at private high schools so maybe it is simply the fact they have an IT budget and they want the best???

              All of them HATED the chromebooks. Their friends that go to public high school in some cases use Chromebooks/Google apps and they too HATE chromebooks, with statements like "hardly anyone actually uses the chrome books" telling me they prefer to use their iPhones with Google docs, or wait to get home to their PC/Mac to use those devices to login into their school Google accounts.

              One thing no one has mentioned so far is privacy. Google and Facebook are facing the most pressure ever from the EU and now in the US congress about the data they collect and how it is used. It is a rapidly rising issue in US politics on both sides of the political spectrum. If Google is impacted by possible future legislation it will impact their business and possibly in a big way. Will all of those Google products still be free to schools?? Will Google just shut them know like Inbox, reader or picasa???

              ChomeOS is a resounding failure in the market place. Chromebooks are nothing but future landfill.

              • VancouverNinja

                In reply to Stooks:

                Finally - Nice to see real world facts behind the discussion.

              • jrickel96

                In reply to Stooks:

                This is what I've been hearing from the retail chain. ChromeOS is now beginning to decline after never really surging.

                I expect within two years they will be completely out of the market.

                I also expect Android will be transformed due to antitrust action in Europe at least. Google will have to step back due to privacy laws. They will still be big, but they will be severely diminished within the next five years.

                • My Hell baby speaking

                  In reply to Stooks:

                  They will still be big, but they will be severely diminished within the next five years.

                  The antitrust case in the EU may bring some improvements from the consumers' privacy perspective and freedom in every day usage. Anyhow that's where my hope rests.

                  I'm interested to know what do you mean by diminish, though? Receding install base of Android in favor of iOs usage? Alphabet loosing revenue and cancelling future projects like Fuchsia or stalling development on Android? Google's Android division being jettisoned by GOOGL and dying a slow painful death by customer's reawoken with a then market entering OS by Microsoft?

                  I'd like to hear more.

                • jrickel96

                  In reply to My Hell baby speaking:

                  They'll diminish in revenue due to privacy laws and not being able to sell as many targeted ads. The revenue generated by non-targeted ads is 1/3 or lower. As privacy laws expand and people refuse to opt in (which is what will happen, it will not be opt out, but opt in), Google's primary revenue sources will decline. There are some projections around that think revenue and profits could fall by 50% in the next few years.

                  If ad revenues decline, Google subsidies will also decline for other products and ad shares on mobile platforms may also reduce making Android less alluring for some app providers.

                  There also could be less Google products on Android due to anti-trust in some places and that may cause other jurisdictions to open up the platform. This means less information and less opportunities for ad placement.

                  So by diminished I mean lower impact on Android and less ad revenue. No one will approach them in search and they will still be big in ads, but online ads will decline overall for revenue due to privacy laws.

                  I don't see Android receding because it's cheap, but I think it will fragment and get forked A LOT if anti-trust forces Play Store and Google location to be able to be bundled separately. Samsung will most definitely fork it. But others will too and Google may lose control over Android entirely.

                  Honestly if Samsung completely forks the OS then Android loses a lot of installs when it comes to Google's version. If other OEMs fork it (Huawei) then is there a reason to keep developing Android or just let the forked versions win the day?

                  I think we'll see a future where Android is even more fragmented, Google apps are not standard install, and ad revenues decline.

    • dontbe evil

      In reply to Truffles:

      "this will be the year of Linux" (every year)

    • jrickel96

      In reply to Truffles:


      ChromeOS has never been able to show any growth outside of in K-12 and that's only because it's cheap. No one buys them. Retailers have to be paid money by Google just to stock them. Go into your local electronics store and notice that no one ever looks at them.

      I've heard sales are slipping and that education orders took a step back.

      There are only about 10-15 million ChromeOS users worldwide. You really think that several hundred million people will switch to it when they have seen no real growth over the past two years?

      Couple this with the negative perception of Chrome that is growing and the overall negative perception of Google. No one stands a chance of leaping Google in search. Chrome? Maybe if someone did something amazing. Problem is that no one is doing that and most people use it on Android.

      Funny thing is that the one company that could really challenge them is not. Safari on PC, Android, and Apple platforms could really challenge Chrome, but Apple wouldn't do it in a million years.

  10. jimchamplin

    Why the “limited” availability of Linux? Is it like Android apps? Apparently running software is a hard computer science problem.


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