Chrome OS beta gets refreshed apps, Google Now support

30 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

5 secret Chrome app launcher tips and tricks that speed up everyday tasks.

Anyone who has used Android can attest to the usefulness of Google Now: After all, it conveniently presents useful bits of timely information—weather, traffic, news headlines, and so on—in a clear, easy-to-parse manner. Chrome OS users will soon be able to join the fun, though: According to Google’s François Beaufort, Google Now functionality will make its way into the upcoming Chrome Launcher 2.0. “This new launcher is the best way to start new activities on Chrome OS, like performing a Google search or launching apps,” Beaufort wrote in a post on Google+. “Search has been enhanced to help you find what you are looking for faster, apps you most often use right have been put at your fingertips, and the power of Google Now has been brought to your Chromebook.” The new Launcher 2.0 hits Chrome OS Beta Channel builds this coming week, though it’s still unclear when it will come to the “stable” builds intended for broader consumption (my guess: “when it’s ready”). It packs a surprising amount of Google-y power that can speed up a wide variety of tasks on a Chromebook—and Windows, if you install the Chrome launcher.

The company announced on Thursday that they would be incorporating more Google Now features into their Chrome OS, to make their Chromebook PC’s more useful in a broad range of ways. Anyone who uses Chrome OS can join the Beta Channel, which allows you get at new Chrome OS features before they become available to everyone and provide feedback to Google. This comes at a time when competition between Chromebook and other PC’s – particularly those running Windows operating systems – is at an all-time high. And it’s easy to do: Click your account picture when logged in as the “owner,” go to Settings > About Chrome OS, click More info, then click Change channel… to make the switch. Your four most recent apps appear below your search box, along with a button to show “all apps.” Beneath these apps, the launcher will show information cards from Google Now, similar to how they appear on phones and tablets.

Your Chromebook will pull up suggestions from your search history, bookmarks, frequently-visited sites, and—of course—Google’s auto-suggestions from the Internet and Chrome Web Store. After using this method to navigate the web, Windows or OS X will suddenly start to feel slower by comparison… though the Chrome app launcher offers the same functionality on those operating systems.

The keyboard commands are pretty straightforward: Use the forward slash for fractions and division, the x for multiplication, and the period for decimals. There are also several recognizable voice commands that will perform a function, such as setting a timer, or creating a reminder that will sync to Chrome on any device. For example, when you right-click (accomplished by tapping two fingers on the Chromebook trackpad) on an app’s icon, you’ll find some additional options. You can open a Chrome app in its own window, for instance, which is useful if you want a desktop-type experience by having different apps and web services running discretely.

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