All the changes we’ll be highlighting in this video have been talked about in the past. They are UI features or improvements that have been in the Beta, Developer, or Canary channels of ChromeOS, generally hidden behind tags and available on what appears to be a circular basis. While none of these parts are new to those who follow ChromeOS development, ChromeOS 104 can bring many of these changes together in a cohesive way that makes a really big impact on the overall user experience.
While there are quite a few changes included in what we’re discussing today, they fall into 3 main areas of the operating system at this point: Application launcher, system tray, and customization settings. Again, we’ve seen all of these sections get small tweaks and changes over the course of several months, but ChromeOS 104 in the beta channel brings them together in a nice harmony that makes the entire operating system feel fresh and new in some important ways. lets take alook.
The ChromeOS Productivity Launcher is probably the longest-lived addition to the bunch as it has been in the works for over a year at this point. We’ve discussed its arrival in several videos and posts, but its rollout has been a bit slow. Some users have reported seeing it arrive in the latest ChromeOS firmware update, but some like me have had no luck. On some Chromebooks, it was present, and on others it was not.
With ChromeOS 104 Beta, the Productivity Launcher is fully in place and ready to use without any setup or cues required. It’s smaller than the standard and older tablet-oriented design and allows apps to be sorted by name or color, and most importantly feels right at home with the current ChromeOS aesthetic. I’ve loved this feature ever since it came out, and I’m glad to see it coming all the way to ChromeOS 104 for what everyone’s like this time around.
System tray, calendar and notifications
On the other side of the shelf is System Tray, and some new features are finalized in version 104 as well. The split clock/date setting is available here along with an updated calendar widget that comes with some nice visual updates and animations. On the other side of the system tray is the updated notification section that It finally appears to belong to ChromeOS. The older notification section has always been a hit for me, and this new notification center matches the look of well-established ChromeOS features like the Tote Zones and Phone Hub, making your notification feed feel like it really belongs on your Chromebook.
Last but not least is the new Personalization Center. Again, not new, but without additional tags or setup steps, it’s nice to see this in ChromeOS 104. When you right-click on your desktop and select “Set wallpaper and style”, you’ll find a new area that allows you to set your wallpaper and choose Light/dark mode and your screensaver setting.
The wallpaper picker adds Google Photos as the source, the light/dark mode works flawlessly and allows the sunset timer to switch to dark mode, and the screensaver is fully integrated as well. From this settings window, you can really tweak the look of ChromeOS to your liking, and the Google Photos app is perfect, letting you choose individual photos or albums for wallpapers or screensavers to your heart’s content.
With all of these separate, connected features rolled out in ChromeOS 104, it’s starting to feel like ChromeOS is solidifying its design language. ChromeOS is no longer a hybrid of Chrome and Android, but rather a Google-like aesthetic that makes it feel more and more at home in Google’s hardware lineup. No, these new changes are not new life-changing features, but they do make the operating system more cohesive and attractive to use. As Chromebooks continue to grow and evolve, this is an important part of the equation, and Google is moving things in the right direction with tweaks like these.
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