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Chrome OS 85 Stable Channel arrives: Here’s what you need to know

On Tuesday, Google announced that the Chrome OS 85 Stable Channel is released, with the typical staggered rollout over the coming days. As usual, Google has highlighted some of the newest features for Chromebooks, but there’s always more in terms of experimental functionality.

I’ll share what you need to know about Chrome OS 85 from the official release and cover thee additional items Google has held under wraps for now.

Wi-Fi password sync between Chromebooks

We knew that WiFi password synchronization between Chromebooks was coming and it’s finally here in Chrome OS 85. This is ideal for people or families that use multiple Chromebooks in the same location, and therefore, likely on the same network. Why? Because Wi-Fi passwords are part of your profile’s keychain, so they move from Chromebook to Chromebook. No word on if this feature will also include Android phones, although it likely will in the future.

Search bar in Chrome OS Settings

This is a long overdue improvement for finding different settings on a Chromebook. Not only does the Search bar find your exact queries but it’s smart enough to suggest related results, as shown above. Usability in the Chrome OS Settings has been adequate but I appreciate this new feature, which I’ve been using on the Chrome OS 86 Dev Channel.

Say hello to the new microphone slider

With so many people and students working or studying at home, video conferencing usage is up. So this new microphone volume slider is a welcome addition to Chrome OS 85. There’s no need to jump into the settings for Hangouts, Meet, Zoom or whatever video chat service you use now; you can just click and slide!

And speaking of video, the Camera app can now pause and resume video while recording, or take a still snapshot during a video. All videos are saved in MP4 format, making it easier for others to view your content, although I don’t see too many people creating sharable video with a Chromebook.

That’s all that Google is officially highlighting for Chrome OS 85 in it’s news release, so let’s hit the other goodies from the Chrome Enterprise release notes and other sources:

  • The “Displays” page in Settings has been updated to allow independent configuration of the resolution and the refresh rate for external monitors. This setting will be split automatically and users do not need to take any action.
  • When entering text using the handwriting keyboard, you can now use familiar gestures to edit your handwriting. Drawing a strikethrough will delete text, and a caret will give you space to insert text.
  • Users can now manage their ongoing print jobs and view what has been completed.
  • As previously mentioned, Chrome tabs open up to 10 percent faster and can be grouped.

I have to dig through the code commits (and there are a lot of them!) in lieu of additional release notes, so as I find other items or experimental flags, I will update this post accordingly.

author avatar
Kevin C. Tofel

6 thoughts on “Chrome OS 85 Stable Channel arrives: Here’s what you need to know

  1. Thanks for reporting.

    Nice improvements, especially the sync for wifi passwords. It’s something I have missed for years, never understood why it hasn’t been such by default.

    I am still quietly waiting for this bug to be solved https://bugs.chromium.org/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=826614 May be with chrome OS 86…

    Btw, I must stand corrected. A couple weeks ago I wrote that android apps in crostini cannot use chrome OS file manager but, since at least chrome OS 84.0.4147.136 this feature is on by default. Sorry.

    1. For a subset of Chromebook users – owners of some older Chromebooks – updating to Chrome OS 85 can turn out to be a disaster. There is a bug in the way the WiFi chip is being controlled/wireless connections are being managed that causes the Chrome browser to stall/freeze shortly after startup. After a time with screen and cursor frozen the browser will crash and the screen will go to black. After another short delay the browser will restart and the user will gain control of the computer for, maybe, 15 seconds before the screen and cursor freezes again and the same sorry cycle repeats again and again indefinitely with open tabs having to be restored with each restart of the browser.

      After updating my Toshiba Chromebook 2 (2015) and my partner’s Asus Chromebook C302 to Chrome OS 85 both Chromebooks exhibited the described behavior and consequently have become unusable.

      This has been a very impressive stuff up. Not only does this render a Chromebook useless but due to the constant process of crashes and restarts the Chromebook isn’t functional long enough to be pushed a fix to deal with the problem. The crashing and restarting can be prevented by disabling the modem but that just makes the Chromebook useless in a different way.

  2. How do you get the Wi-fi sync to work? I got the update but it’s not working, and I don’t see how to turn it on.

    This network is shared with you.
    This network is not synced to your account. Learn more

  3. I recently updated some apps and probably this new chrome 85 as well. I’ve noticed myself along with a few others are having issues with google play apps crashing after a few seconds. Chromebook says they are aware of the problem but its been 4 to 5 days for some us with no resolution. I want to use my apps without doing a hard reset any suggestions would be appreciated.

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