What you need to know
- Google's Chrome OS 88 is now live.
- It brings the new smart display-like lockscreen spotted in testing earlier in 2020.
- Google is also adding in support for WebAuthn. Now, Chromebook users can use biometrics to sign into sites that support it.
Google today is rolling out Chrome OS 88, the newest version of its desktop operating system. It's the first update for 2021, and it's not especially feature-packed. Everything in Chrome 88 is making the jump, and Google is bringing some highly antiicpated features.
First, there's the enhanced lock screen. Chrome OS has had a very minimalist lockscreen since launch. It got a slight overhaul when Google overhauled the entire operating system's interface a few years back, but it has remained relatively feature-light. With Chrome OS 88, Google will let you use it more or less like a smart display. This means you can set it to show a slide show of your favorite photo albums or any other image collection you want. You'll also be able to carry out basic smart display tasks like checking the weather, and of course, it's gaining the ability to control tracks being played.
In the meantime, Google is extending the biometric support some of the best Chromebooks have to websites. If you're using a Chromebook that supports a fingerprint sensor you'll now be able to use your fingerprint to sign in to websites that support it. Google says that you can also use a Chromebook as a second factor if you're using 2Fa. Instead of using an app like the Google Authenticator, your Chromebook will serve as the second factor.
Not all sites support it, Google mentions Dropbox, Okta, and Github, and you'll find it on Salesforce and Shopify. It's a relatively new tool, so expect more support as the next few years go by.
Google is rolling out Chrome OS 88 to Chromebooks within the next couple of weeks. Like with all Chrome OS releases, it is not hitting all machines at once.
The best Chromebook experience Google currently offers. With a large screen, a flexible keyboard, and powerful processors, it's one of the best all-rounder computers you can buy in 2021.
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