What you need to know
- Chrome OS is set to get an ambient mode as Google adds weather and clock support to new builds of the operating system.
- Google is also working on customizable cursor colors which will see Chromebooks gain a green cursor option before a white one.
- Both features are being tested in Chrome OS 85.
Google is working on an ambient mode for Chrome OS devices that would let them work a lot more like Nest Hubs when not in use. The feature first spotted in early canary builds of Chrome OS but has been expanded with new weather and clock options (via Android Police) as it prepares to go live for users testing developer builds of the operating system.
Ambient mode here, as it does like on Android tablets and phones, lets the operating system turn an idle display (like the spacious one of the Pixelbook Go) into a smart photo frame using Google Photos or Google's own art galleries that power the wallpaper app. Google is also adding support for weather and time notifications, so your Chromebook will look and act more like an Idle Nest Hub.
While it's not clear to what extent this would be useful on a laptop, it's going to stand out more on tablets which exist more as standalone displays than anything. If devices like the Chromebook Duet become more popular, Google could be set to position them as cheap alternatives to Smart Displays.
Google is also set to work on customizable cursors for Chrome OS. It's an accessibility feature meant to help those who may be color blind or similarly visually impaired shift to a cursor that's more easily identifiable. The company will offer new color options like Red, Orange, Blue, Green, and Purple, in addition to the standard Black that Chromebooks already have, Oddly enough, the option for a white cursor like Windows or macOS is absent from this customization.
Both features are currently being tested as part of Chrome OS 85.