The ChromeOS 110 release is now available with many security updates and follows just a week after the Chrome browser was updated to version 110. Chromebooks get seven key, new features with the software update. The new version is now rolling out to most of the supported ChromeOS devices. If you haven’t received the ChromeOS 110 release, you can check the status of your device here.
Google only updates the “What’s New” release notes every few versions, so you won’t explicitly be told what’s inside the ChromeOS 110 release. Here’s what I found so far, which is a mix of items I’ve previously covered and some new ones.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 714 finally gets a ChromeOS update
Although this only applies to a small percentage of users, software on the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 is now in lockstep with other devices. I’ve heard from a number of people with the Spin 714 that they’ve been stuck on ChromeOS 107. That’s not good.
I reached out to an internal Google contact earlier this week for information. And finally, the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 gets a ChromeOS update. I was told that the ChromeOS team knew about the issue and that the affected devices would indeed jump from ChromeOS 107 to 110.
Sure enough, I’ve heard from Spin 714 owners that their laptop did receive the ChromeOS 110 update. Since they’ve waited so long, I opted to make this news front and center. Let’s move on to the release news for everyone next.
Moar security in the ChromeOS 110 release!
Chrome 110 arrived with 15 security updates on the browser side, but ChromeOS 110 comes with 16. How’s that work? Well, the same 15 security fixes for the browser are in there, and there’s one specific to ChromeOS. Google isn’t sharing the details yet until the majority of devices are updated and patched. That’s done so that unpatched devices can’t be exploited.
What we do know is that the security hole has something to do with sideloading APK files, i.e.: Android apps. If you’re interested in hearing the details once they’re available, you’ll find them in Google’s issue tracker.
Super Resolution Audio for supported Bluetooth headsets
I believe this is the Bluetooth LE audio feature that the Bluetooth SIG introduced in 2020. The idea is that using new codecs, lower bitrate audio is nearly indistinguishable from audio that requires more data bandwidth.
Regardless of the implementation here, although I hope it’s using a Bluetooth standard and not a proprietary solution, Chromebook audio over Bluetooth should sound much better. Google says “your ChromeOS device helps you sound more natural in calls and conferences.”
I loathe conference calls and don’t have many friends, so I haven’t tested this yet. 😉
Quick settings gives a quick look at your ChromeOS version and channel
For some reason, I don’t see this feature on my freshly updated Chromebook. However, I have seen it when running the Beta and Dev Channels previously.
Tucked into the Quick Settings next to the clock, Google will be showing the ChromeOS version and channel of your device. Expanding the Quick Settings shows additional details on the specific version number.
A better Launcher search experience
This one is for those, like me, who fat-finger those ChromeOS Launcher searches. Google has redesigned the Launcher Search autocomplete function so that it’s more robust.
This means you’ll still see search results for what you intended to type. Google says it has also clarified search result categories and made the keyboard navigation through results more intuitive.
Selective text to speech
At first, I didn’t see this feature on my ChromeOS 110 device but I then enabled it in Settings. Just navigate through Settings -> Accessibility -> Text-to-Speech and look for the Select-to-speak option.
I love this feature from an accessibility standpoint, although my eyes aren’t yet bad enough that I need it.
When selecting any on-screen text and right-clicking, you’ll see a new option in the context menu. It’s called “Listen to selected text”. Choosing it will read the highlighted text aloud, which is fantastic for those with visual challenges.
Website approvals with Family Link in ChromeOS 110
So I’m sure the kids won’t appreciate this but as a parent, I see the value. A new Family Link management feature arrives in ChromeOS 110 that allows users to request access to a blocked website.
For example, if you manage home Chromebooks you can block the kids from certain sites on their Chromebook. But what if you need to unblock one simply because there actually is valuable information on the site. Maybe the younglings are doing a school report on Minecraft but you’ve blocked access to the Minecraft site.
With ChromeOS 110, the kids can request an unblock to get at the info they need. There’s an “Ask your parent” screen in this case, where an unblock request can be sent and a new “Ask in person” option. This way the parent can take action to unblock the site right then and there on the Chromebook. Obviously, the parent will have to sign in to approve the request. So keep those Family Link credentials safe!
Sorry, can’t save that video because you’re low on space
The ChromeOS Camera learns a new trick with the 110 release: A warning if you’re Chromebook is low on storage when taking a picture or video. In particular, the storage warning will appear during video capture and will stop the recording before all of your free storage space is used. That means you either want to wrap up the recording session, or delete some files to free up space before trying again with a new video file.
No Material You in ChromeOS 110… yet
I’ve been dabbling with the upcoming Material You design changes in ChromeOS 110 and 111 with the Beta and Dev Channels. This modifies the Quick Settings to look more like Android and brings automatic theme color changes to the ChromeOS interface.
Unfortunately, even with the appropriate experimental flags enabled in ChromeOS 110, Material You didn’t come along for the ride. Google is still tweaking the code so if you’re on the Stable Channel, you’ve got a bit of a wait yet for Material You.