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Chromebooks are one step closer to Apple’s AirDrop with Chrome OS 91



Following the release of Chrome 91 for mobile and desktop platforms, Chrome OS 91 will be launched on eligible Chromebooks. The major update introduces a slew of new features that will sweeten the user experience – here are all the important pieces Google announced today.

Seamless file sharing between Chrome OS and Android devices

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For years, it was difficult to share photos and transfer files between your Google devices. As of today, Google Nearby Share with Chrome OS 91 is launching the answer to Apple’s AirDrop. You can send and receive files seamlessly without sharing your contact information, and keep your transfers private.

We covered how to use Nearby Share on your Chromebook while it was still being tested, and this now applies to the latest stable version of Chrome OS, so be sure to check it out.

Renewed media experience

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The media player received a complete overhaul in this release cycle. Video files are played in the Chrome OS Gallery app, replacing the barebones VCR with a nicer and more functional one. The new user interface gets a QuickTime-like floating box at the bottom with all the controls in it: play / pause, scrubbing, system-independent volume, full screen and brand new buttons to jump back and forth by 10 seconds.

To try the new media player, launch any video from file manager.

Apps brands

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Alerts are crucial to a product’s ease of use and productivity, at least when done correctly. Chrome OS 91 makes alerts less annoying with app tags, a subtle way to indicate that something new is waiting in an app. A small, colorful circular tag appears at the top right when the app has a pending alert.

Since app brands can be intrusive to some, you can turn them off by going to Quick Settings> Alerts.

Offline Google Drive access

Chrome OS 90 first introduced the ability to save Documents, Slides, PDFs, Sheets, and entire folders from Google Drive for offline use. Now this feature is rolling out more with Chromebooks running Chrome OS 91. From the file manager, click on the file or folder you need to access offline and swap “Available Offline” in the toolbar.

New wallpapers

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Chrome OS 91 introduces a brand new wallpaper collection by 3D artist Leo Natsume. Digital illustrations like the one above have become one of the hottest design trends in recent years – the colorful, cheerful characters are a great way to light up your desktop.

Check out the new Imaginary collection by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting “Set Wallpaper”. Alternatively, you can download mobile and desktop variants of these wallpapers here.

Various changes

There are also some minor changes that are new to Chrome OS …

  • There’s a new collection of animated avatars by the same artist, Leo Natsume, for the Chromebook login screen. To change the existing account picture, go to Settings> Personalization> Change device account image.

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New collection of animated avatars for Chrome OS

  • The Chrome address bar gets a little visual adjustment in Chrome OS 91 to improve usability. When you click on it, the URL bar has a blue outline that is easy to see. When you hover the mouse pointer over a search suggestion, a blue cursor appears next to it.

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Small visual alignment of the Chrome address bar.

  • The sign-in screen will no longer flash white when you sign in to Chrome OS. Small changes like this go a long way in making Chrome OS more polished.
  • Administrators can now enforce users to connect to a VPN before logging in, so they get secure authentication. The built-in VPN supports L2TP / IPsec and OpenVPN.

Check out these new features when Chrome OS 91 arrives on your device. The update may take a few days to roll out to everyone, so be patient if it is not available yet. Overall, this is a decent update with some meaningful new features – Chromebooks continue to go from strength to strength.


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