Following last week’s release of Chrome 86 on desktop and mobile platforms, Google is now rolling out Chrome OS 86 to eligible Chromebooks. Like the past major updates, Chrome OS 86 offers several new features and improvements to ensure you continue to have a reliable, productive, and comfortable experience on your Chromebook. Here are a few things Google announced today that are coming to your Chromebook.
A refreshed Gallery app UI
The Chrome OS Gallery app got a complete UI overhaul in this release cycle. Unlike the old design, the new Gallery UI uses deeper blacks and brighter accent colors to make it feel integrated into Chrome OS. You can also see improvements with the cropping and filter features, along with other quality-of-life improvements to make a better fluid experience. The Gallery app can also play video and music if you drag those files into it, but I would personally use MX Player or VLC for Android instead.
Party like the ’90s with custom cursor colors
Okay, this feature isn’t used solely for cosmetic reasons, despite what you may think. Google is offering seven new cursor colors in Chrome OS: red, yellow, green, cyan, blue, magenta, and pink. Cursor colors are designed to improve legibility on your Chromebook and help people with impaired vision.
Export accessible PDFs in Chrome
Google is improving the web experience for users with impaired vision. Chrome can easily convert websites into accessible PDFs by generating headings, links, tables, and alt-text, making content easier for screen-readers and users to read.
Logging into your Chromebook is quicker and simpler
Are you having trouble typing out your long password correctly? The login screen now has a new option to view passwords or PINs so you can see what you’re typing. Click on the eye-shaped icon to show your password or PIN in cleartext. Chrome OS will hide the cleartext after 5 seconds of inactivity and clear the input after 30 seconds.
Google is also offering a new auto-submit PIN feature for even quicker unlocking. A new toggle will show up in Chrome OS settings that allow you to choose if you want Chrome OS to sign you in automatically after entering the right PIN. Check out our coverage on the auto-submit feature for more details.
Family Link now supports Android apps using school accounts
Are you bothered about the inability to use Android apps with your school account? Google updated Family Link on Chrome OS 86 so even your school account finally has access to previously restricted apps.
Initial HDR support in Chrome OS
Chrome OS now supports high-dynamic-range imaging (HDR) out of the box, allowing users to take advantage of HDR from sites like YouTube. To view HDR content, your Chromebook’s internal display (like the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook) or external monitor must also support HDR.
Find out what’s new in the Explore app
Are you curious about what’s new in Chrome OS? The Explore app will now have a “what’s new” navigation pane so you can see features highlighted in current and past features that came in Chrome OS.
New Emoji Suggestions
Can’t figure out what emoji to use? Starting with Chrome OS 86, your Chromebook will now automatically suggest emoji to include in your social media post when typing on your keyboard.
Type faster with Personal Information Suggestions
Google is looking for new ways to speed up your typing experience. With this release cycle, Chrome OS will help you type faster by intelligently suggesting phone numbers, emails, addresses, and names. For example, if you type “my phone number is,” your Chromebook will automatically suggest your phone number in the text field.
With select-to-speak, users can choose words on the screen to be announced out loud. To help people with impaired vision and learning disabilities like dyslexia, Google is further improving select-to-speech by offering the option to shade background text that isn’t highlighted, making it much easier to focus on the words being announced.
Screen readers like ChromeVox are imperative for people with vision difficulties to use their computers. In this release cycle, ChromeVox will automatically switch languages based on the page’s content, even if there are multiple languages on screen. Google also added better speech customizations, Smart Sticky mode, and improved navigation in ChromeVox menus.
The features highlighted in Google’s official announcement only scratches the surface of what’s new in Chrome OS 86. In a future article, I will dive deep into even more cool things that are new to Chrome OS, such as an incredibly useful search bar in the Linux (Beta) terminal and improved multi-monitor setup experience. The Chrome OS 86 update may take a few days to reach your device, but overall, it is an exciting release that is definitely worth the wait.