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4 useful Chromebook upgrades Google didn't mention in its I/O keynote

4 useful Chromebook upgrades Google didn't mention in its I/O keynote


Google has solved a fundamental problem with Chromebook gaming in a pretty cool way. How do I play Android touch games on a Chromebook without a touchscreen? For a long time, the answer was simply “no.” But Google has come up with a way to remap keyboard input to touch controls for all games in the Google Play Store, and has made a few other tweaks to help Chromebooks.

For some reason, Google completely excluded ChromeOS and Chromebooks from the Google I/O keynote. The keynote included AI-powered search enhancements and some interesting AI tweaks to Gmail. But as the debate about whether to buy a laptop or a Chromebook continues, it's important to consider the latest advancements in Chromebooks. This week, Google executives gave an overview of new Google technologies coming in the future.

Google calls this Game Controls. Emily Roberts, Google's developer relations engineer, said the technology was first shown in a limited set of titles in 2022. However, the editor has been improved to provide broader coverage of all apps in the Play Store. Game Controls is currently being tested on ChromeOS m125 in beta and will be released to the stable channel “soon,” she said.

The screenshot is a little blurry, but basically ChromeOS game controls allow you to specify a point on the screen and make keyboard keys equivalent to “clicks” in that area. The screenshot is a bit blurry, but essentially ChromeOS game controls allow you to specify a point on the screen and make keyboard keys equivalent to “clicks” in that area.


The screenshot is a little blurry, but basically ChromeOS game controls allow you to specify a point on the screen and make keyboard keys equivalent to “clicks” in that area.



Similarly, Google is taking pages from other gaming platforms and allowing gamers to capture clips from their favorite games. “Gamers can capture videos and screenshots and share them on social media without interrupting the game flow,” Roberts says. He did not say when the feature would be released.

In addition to making it easier for users to add apps to Chromebooks, Google is also offering two new features aimed at making it easier for developers to discover their apps. The first and most noticeable is the “Add to Chromebook” button that appears on his website in the app. This allows you to quickly add apps in a launchable, standalone format. According to Sam Richard, a senior developer advocate at Google, it works with both PWAs (progressive web applications) and Android apps. Clicking on the button will open the corresponding entry in the Play Store. It will be released with Chrome OS 125, which will be rolled out over the coming days and weeks.

The Add to Chromebook button is valid, but developers must implement it themselves. He said 18 development partners have already signed up or committed to using the new “Add to Chromebook” button.

“A lot of people look for apps in the Play Store, but Google search is also a very popular way to find apps,” says Richard. “Many people start their discovery with a search and end up on your website.”

Tabbed PWA mode within ChromeOS. Tabbed PWA mode within ChromeOS.


Tabbed PWA mode within ChromeOS.



Finally, Google is introducing a tabbed PWA mode. According to Google, when you download a PWA, you can basically organize them into tabs instead of having each one appear in a separate app window. Figma introduced an early example of this where he displayed the home page in one tab, and opened additional files to work on in another separate tab. This is reminiscent of the tabbed “Sets” interface that Microsoft tried out, abandoned, and then resurfaced within File Explorer's tabbed interface.




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