Chrome OS 71 Stable adds new features with most of them available first on Pixel Slate

On Friday, Google announced that the Stable Channel of Chrome OS 71 is available, noting that several of the features are for the Pixel Slate, with other Chromebooks to follow. I was a little surprised for two reasons: At the October Pixel Slate launch event, all of the devices were already running Chrome OS 71, and the review units already had this version as well. I assumed anyone purchasing a Pixel Slate would get version 71 on their device but apparently, that may not be the case.

In fact, I verified this on my own Pixel Slate that I purchased; this morning I took it out of the box and ran through the initial setup only to find this screen, that likely updated the software to Chrome OS 71.

My guess is that anyone who bought a Pixel Slate likely got the update right out of the box, so what’s “new” in Chrome OS 71, isn’t really that new to them.

Regardless, here’s a rundown of what’s in the new Stable version of Chrome OS:

  • Refreshed look for Camera app
  • Fingerprint and PIN enrollment in Out of Box Experience
  • Autocomplete in Launcher search
  • Adaptive top UI in Chrome browser based on user scrolling
  • Unified setup flow to connect with an Android phone
  • Assistant natively integrated into the OS (Pixel Slate first, expanding to more devices later)
  • New features for families including app management and screen time limits.
  • Ability to create semi-full pages in Launcher for customizations
  • Launched Android P on Pixel Slate
  • Fingerprint authentication mode on Pixel Slate
  • Portrait mode for Camera app on Pixel Slate

Among the key improvements for everyone, at least eventually, are Android P, native Google Assistant integration and the updated flow to connect Android phones, also known as the “Better Together” feature set. In fact, that last one is much nicer to look at and step through, and isn’t currently limited to the Pixel Slate:

Getting Android P on the Slate, with other devices to follow, won’t really change the look or feel of how Google Play Store apps run. Instead, this adds general OS improvements as Android on Chrome OS moves from Android 7.1.1 to Android 9.0. Think of things like the user interface and navigation as well as features supported by new Android APIs that developers can use.

Native Google Assistant integration is a great step forward as well because it means that you still have full Google Assistant functionality even if you don’t have the Google Play Store enabled on your Chromebook or Chrome OS tablet. I generally keep the Play Store enabled for a few apps, but some folks want to stick to the “simplicity” of Chrome OS; soon they can do that with the Assistant built in directly to Chrome OS as this feature moves beyond the Pixel Slate.

This version of Chrome OS ties in directly with the updated Family Link features Google announced last week as well, including a number of parental controls such as screen time settings and the ability to block access to certain websites or Google Play Store apps.

Again, many of these features are for the Pixel Slate, at least for now, but the overall look and feel of Chrome OS continues to mature for consistent experiences across different form factors such as tablets, 2-in-1s, and traditional clamshell Chromebooks. Plus, there’s plenty more to look forward to in Chrome OS 72!

9 thoughts on “Chrome OS 71 Stable adds new features with most of them available first on Pixel Slate

  • December 16, 2018 at 3:35 pm
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    In the past, we applied the term “fragmentation” to imply that the Android implementation wasn’t under Google’s control. We’re seeing a new type of fragmentation under Chrome OS. My Chromebook is on the beta channel. and It’s still running Chrome OS version 71 (which is not at all a problem for me since it’s now incredibly stable by now.) But it’s still on Android 7.1.1. So, even though version 71 is “supposed to get Android P,” it seems that it really is going to depend on what Chrome OS device you have as to when your device may actually get Android P: version 71, 72, 73…. The instances of this type of fragmentation are steadily growing in number. The way that it’s going, eventually it’s bound to reach a point at which even Google can’t keep track.

    Reply
    • December 18, 2018 at 12:08 pm
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      fragmentation isn’t really bad though. Apple has been using fragmentation as an attack on android for years. but (when done correctly) is a very valuable rollout strategy for software.

      Reply
  • December 16, 2018 at 3:47 pm
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    I’d like to know more about
    “Ability to create semi-full pages in Launcher for customizations”

    Do you have any additional info?

    Reply
  • December 16, 2018 at 6:42 pm
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    My Slate is still on 71.0.3578.57 so I wonder if we’ll still see a minor update to 71 (71.0.3578.94 as per the Chrome Releases post) arriving for Slates shortly…

    Reply
    • December 18, 2018 at 1:29 am
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      Just received the .94 update on my Pixel Slate. Might be too early to tell but things feel snappier and overall less buggy than the .57 release that was available when I first purchased the Slate. Crossing my fingers that I continue to see a good user experience with this update!

      Reply
  • December 17, 2018 at 8:18 pm
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    I sort of see more Chrome OS improvements focused towards the premium Chromebooks these days then the original Chromebook simplicity. Trying to expand the attraction to more affluent buyers willing to buy a Chrome device instead of a Mac or high end Windows PC. I certainly do not want to run Linux apps on my Celeron 3060 with 2Gb Ram. Android apps a OK addition for sure but I bought a Chromebook for the simplicity of it all. That seems to be sort of going away if you ask me.

    Reply
  • December 18, 2018 at 5:52 am
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    I don’t like most of new features on Chrome OS.

    Android apps takes space and resources, now Linux apps? I bought Chromebook 5 years ago for simplicity in my mind, now it is bloated with everything I have no need.

    Reply
    • December 18, 2018 at 12:10 pm
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      you have to enable and install linux for it to use ANY of your resources. if you dont want it, you dont have it. it’s not bloat if it isn’t installed. you’re complaint is moot

      Reply
  • December 20, 2018 at 1:01 pm
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    After the update of my Acer Chromebook R11 to 71.0.3578.94 Amazon Prime Video is very slow to load and plays choppy. I have tried the usual, rebooting, resetting Chrome OS, deleting all caches, nothing seems to work. anyone else having this issue?

    Reply

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