Some ChromeOS updates don’t offer too much when it comes to new functionality. The latest ChromeOS 104 update has many new features, which I’m sure most people will be happy with.
If you’ve read any of my articles or watched my YouTube videos you’ve possibly already used some of these new features. Before the update, you would have had to enable flags to take advantage of some of these features. The ChromeOS 104 update means you now get these features by default.
The great thing about ChromeOS is that you get a new update every four weeks. These updates include any security patches and new features that the ChromeOS team has decided are ready to roll out by default. Let’s take a look at some of the new features you get with the ChromeOS 104 update.
New ChromeOS App launcher menu
Once you’ve updated to ChromeOS 104 you’ll notice that you have a new ChromeOS app launcher. This is the menu that you can access from the bottom left of your desktop. It’s officially called the app launcher, but it could also be called the ChromeOS start menu.
Before the update, the app launcher menu used to take up the whole of the display. You may have liked this design, but I felt it was too much. Having the app launcher menu take up the whole of the screen felt unnecessary. The new app launcher menu will look and feel familiar if you’ve used Microsoft Windows.
One of the best things I love about the new menu is that you no longer need to manage your icons. The old menu had an issue where icons appeared all over the menu over several pages when installing new apps. The new menu keeps all of the icons together, so you don’t get huge gaps between apps. It’s much neater and easier to use. You can also sort the apps alphabetically, which makes it much easier to find apps when you’ve got a huge number of apps installed on your Chromebook.
Not all devices got the new menu
I first updated my Chromebox and when I logged in I got immediate access to the new app launcher menu. I was expecting the same when I updated my Asus CX5 Chromebook. However, I found the menu had not changed to the new menu. Instead, I had access to the older style menu.
I’m not too sure why this was the case, however, I easily changed this by changing the flags. If you’ve updated to ChromeOS 104 and the old menu is still showing. You may want to enable the flags to get the new ChromeOS app launcher menu.
At the same time, if you do have access to the flags to change the menu. You may be able to revert back to the old-style menu if the new menu isn’t for you. If you have access to your latest files on the new menu and would prefer for these not to show. You can also change the settings so the quick links do not show.
Another great feature that has been released as standard is the calendar. This is something I’ve been wanting for years on my Chromebook. If you’ve used Microsoft Windows before you would have got used to having access to a calendar when clicking at the bottom right of your desktop.
This was something that was missing on ChromeOS for many years, so I’m delighted we now have access to a calendar directly from the Chromebook desktop. Again, this is something you may have already been using because you could enable the calendar on ChromeOS using flags even before this latest update.
Having access to a calendar directly from the ChromeOS desktop is a great new feature. When you click on each date you will have a direct link to your Google calendar. This allows you to easily access your Google calendar to add new events. When you have events on your Google calendar these also show on your ChromeOS calendar. Making it an excellent new feature, which I’m sure many will find really useful.
Dark/light mode on ChromeOS
If you’ve been using a Chromebook for a while you may have started getting a little bored with the dark-styled menu and desktop shelf. The latest ChromeOS update now gives you the option to change to a light theme. Again, this is something that has been available for some time, but it wasn’t something I used because the text was hard to read against the lighter background.
Thankfully, this has now been fixed and the light theme looks great on ChromeOS. It not only changes your desktop shelf and the app launcher menu background. You also get the light theme when you are presented with your login screen. I really like this because it gives a totally new look to your Chromebook.
You can easily change from the dark and light theme by simply right-clicking on your desktop. You then get instant access to the new customisation hub, which includes switching between dark and light mode.
The latest ChromeOS 104 update now gives you access to some other new features. This includes the ability to choose a photo from your Google photos for your desktop image. This is a much better way to use a Google photo for your Chromebook desktop. Before this latest update, you had to download a photo from Google photos to use it as your desktop background.
We’ve had the ability to set a screensaver on ChromeOS for about a year. This latest update allows you to use an animated screensaver rather than using static images. This is great because it allows us all to customise our Chromebooks a little. Something that has been missing on ChromeOS for a while.
The ability to customise our Chromebooks, so they don’t all look the same is great to see. I’m sure many of us like to customise our computers, so we don’t have a computer that looks the same as everyone else who owns a Chromebook. I’m sure in the future, we’ll see even more customisation options available for ChromeOS, which is something I’m sure we’ll all enjoy.