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7 Improvements New To Chrome OS Dev Channel

The last couple of Chrome OS updates on the developer channel have brought welcome improvements and made some exciting new experimental features available to play with.

Easy Unlock, a proximity-based way to unlock your Chromebook using an Android device, is now turned on by default, having previously sat lodged behind a flag.

It’s available to open through the Settings page (though setup still doesn’t work) while the ‘Learn More’ links peppered underneath continue to redirect to a 404 support page.

easy unlock in settings

The fact it is now turned on in Dev means the feature should filter down to stable right on schedule for the release of Android L.

Material Design New Tab Page

On the topic of Android L, a flag to enable a Material Design New Tab Page has been added. Switching this to ‘enabled’ does, at present, nothing to alter the appearance. From what I know of the redesign expect something similar to the NTP in Chrome Beta for Android. 

material design flag

Google Drive sync now uses Progress Center notifications to relay the sync status in place of a separate tray area entry.

progress center

Since being separated from the Files.app file manager, the Chrome OS Gallery continues to improve. Latest dev builds introduce the cropping tool presets and button tooltips to the image editor, as we previously reported on.

Screenshot 2014-08-05 at 19.57.51

Google designers have also added a new video player icon that matches the ones included for Gallery and Files.

screenshot of new video player icon in Chrome OS

Another feature hiding being a flag: it’s now possible to play with Overlay Scrollbars:

Last, but by no means least, MTP Support seems to be enabled and working out of the box:

mtp nexus chrome

  • komrath

    Is it much unstable? :-)

    • Heimen Stoffels

      You mean the channel in general or any of these features?

      ‘m running dev channel for several weeks now and so is my dad. We both have a Samsung Chromebook 2 (he has the 11″, I have the 13″). We do have some flags enabled, including a couple of experimental ones including some of the flags on this list. And we both have quite a few apps and extensions.

      It’s rock solid for both of us.

      • komrath

        Thanks :-) I used dev build in the past, but it was always somehow super slow for me, maybe it changed now :-)

        • Roland

          I’ve been using dev for about a month maybe two and its been rock solid for me, especially since Chrome OS went 64 bit on the dev channel.

    • http://twitter.com/d0od Joey-Elijah Sneddon

      Like Heimen says below, quite honestly: no. It’s very rock solid. Google quality test even the most trivial of changes, so by the time they arrive in dev (let alone beta or stable) they’ve undergone a lot of checking (thanks to flag testing).

      Of course, that’s not to say it isn’t potentially more unstable. Because it is by its nature a development channel. In most instances this generally means you get new features early, but they are not as complete or featured as they’ll be in a couple of updates down the line.

      I’ve run Dev for as long as I can remember (years now) and I can’t recall a single time when I’ve encountered a major issue from doing so.

      • komrath

        Thanks :-) I’m gonna check this out tonight :D

      • http://NathanBrauer.com Nathan J. Brauer

        It’s not entirely true. Chrome-stable on Ubuntu has been CONSTANTLY crashing ever since Aura shipped. Especially with multiple profile running 4 accounts. I thought, maybe I have some broken packages on Ubuntu that’s causing this -surely, the Chrome Team wouldn’t ship such an unstable build – so, I actually installed a fresh version of 14.04 (previously 13.10) and it got worse! I think the longest I get out of it is about 1 hour before it crashes.
        Even more worrying: Yesterday, even my brand new HP Chromebook started doing the same thing.

        • http://twitter.com/d0od Joey-Elijah Sneddon

          Chrome on Ubuntu isn’t quite the same as Chrome OS on a Chrome device, the latter benefits from being highly tuned to a given set of hardware, drivers, apis etc.

          I run Chrome dev on Ubuntu 14.04 and it works fine. Could it be an add-on you’re using causing things to go hay-wire? Are you using the new multi-profile feature or the ‘old’ one?

          You could always install Chrome Dev on Ubuntu (it can sit alongside regular Chrome stable now AIUI) and see if there is any improvement (newer builds may have a bug fix).

          • http://NathanBrauer.com Nathan J. Brauer

            Dev can now run along side Stable?! Is it just by default or do I have to do something to ensure it doesn’t replace Stable?

            I’m just running clean 14.04 with a clean Chrome Stable. It’s possible that an extension is causing it, but Chrome offers no way (that I know of) to determine which extension is the culprit without trial and error. I’m starting to think an extension is the culprit since Chrome OS is crashing too.

        • oldman_60

          I have no problem with Chrome running on Ubuntu 13.10. It should be noted that I only run with one account. However I have no problem with my CB with multiple account. Both Chrome and Chrome OS version are stable channel.

  • Thomas Lonchampt

    New video player icon, ok but … When do we’ll get an all new video player with better video and audio compatibility ??

    • http://twitter.com/d0od Joey-Elijah Sneddon

      The video player has been separated from the files.app so, technically, it is ‘all new’ :)

      As for compatibility, that’s not so much related to the video player but the general codec support Chrome ships with. Some formats require licensing costs to be paid, others are obscure or barely used. A huge number are already supported, but there are a few cases with certain containers where playback suffers. I fully expect we’ll see this addressed as some point.

      • Thomas Lonchampt

        Yes, maybe, but it’s a bit frustrating to watch a simple avi video with big lags, even if codecs are compatible … Hope there will be an android app to help with that :)

    • Frederic MANSON

      I agree, I use Subtitle Video Player to have access to the srt BUT AVI and MKV, when the sound is encoded other than in MP3 are not playing sounds at all. It’s a shame. I hope to see VLC ported on Chrome OS just to kick some @ss to the dev teams for the media player. ;p

      And please, work more on the UI: it’s horrible. As I already said, to be minimalist doens’t mean being 100% minimalist. I really love my Chromebook but if I need to return on a “normal” laptop (a.k.a. w/ Linux), I will not hesitate. At this state of development, it’s abnormal to have such poor UI. Really.

  • rheerani

    I already get that sync notification on stable channel…

  • YouiDraw Team

    An Adobe Illustrator Alternatives for Chrome OS: YouiDraw Drawing.
    I think if you want to make any vector graphic design on your chromebook, it will help you:
    http://www.youidraw.com/