ChromeOS personalization and productivity features announced

Today was a good day for ChromeOS enthusiasts waiting for a way to do some simple video editing with the announcement of a video editor that will be built into Google Photos, which will be available first on Chromebooks this fall. However, that is not the only Chromebook-related announcement from today, as some new and upcoming ChromeOS features were also highlighted. Many of these tackle organization, productivity, and personalization and should roll out in the next few months.


We have covered the “Personalization Hub” quite extensively on this site since it first popped up in Canary, uncovering many of the gems officially announced today. One of these is the ability to set your wallpaper from any of your Google Photos albums or choose that same album as a screensaver to display across your screen in a rotating gallery using the new “Feel the breeze” or “Float on by” photo frames. This feature is scheduled to hit stable in August, although it is already working perfectly in the Stable channel.

Another nifty feature also coming in August is, brace yourselves, Light and Dark themes. This has been hidden behind a flag for the longest time, and I am very excited to see that it is finally coming to Stable release next month. However, it’s not just a dark mode switch that you can turn on and off manually. It will also work in “auto” mode, which will have your Chromebook automatically transition from light to dark based on the time of day. As a bonus, some of the new wallpapers in the Personalization Hub are specially made to work with both themes and subtly switch from light to dark.


Google is also tidying up the Calendar integration by showing you a pop-up calendar any time you tap on the date on the Chromebook shelf. This pop-up calendar is a live calendar with dots representing dates where you have added events; when you tap on them, it will show you that event in more detail.

Notifications are also improving, with those from the same sender now getting grouped together. Google is also tweaking the buttons to be larger and thus making it easier to join a meeting or respond to a message from the notification itself.

Finally, the Gallery app, which is now become ChromeOS’ default media app, will now be able to open your PDFs. Additionally, when you open a PDF, you can enter annotation mode, fill out forms, highlight text, and even sign documents. All of these features will also be rolling out in August.


On the organization front, many users like to rely on the simplicity of using virtual desks to keep certain applications separate from others, depending on the task. In late September, users will be able to save and close a virtual desk, including all the open windows and apps, then resume and reopen that same desk later just as it was left.

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