Some Chromebook cameras not working after a recent Chrome OS update (Updated)

Chromebook camera bug in Chrome OS 100

Here we go again with another Chrome OS update problem. After hearing from several readers that their Chromebook cameras stopped working after a Chrome OS software update, I did a little digging. The reported problem has spawned at least three Chrome OS bug reports that I know of. (Update: Make it four as there’s this one from February 8, first noticed in Chrome OS 97)

Based on the reports, nearly all of the affected Chromebooks use an ARM processor.

From one of the bug reports, it appears the Camera app opens but doesn’t actually capture an image:

Regardless of the application using it, after updating to Chrome OS 99/100, the camera has cease to function. Each time the camera is accessed by an app, it simply does not work. Instead, the white indicator light turns on and flashes while the Chromebook makes a clicking sound, almost like a shutter.

Chrome OS camera bug on Chromebooks

So far, these are the reported Chrome OS devices where the Camera has stopped working:

  • Acer Chromebook 14
  • HP Chromebook x2 11
  • Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook 5
  • Lenovo 10e Chromebook
  • Google Pixelbook Go
  • Acer Chromebook Spin 13

The Acer is an odd one in the group because it uses an Intel Celeron processor. And it only appears in one report, while the others are mentioned several times. These all use ARM chipsets from either Qualcomm or MediaTek.

Six comments in one of the reports all mention the Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook, including one person who has deployed 15 of them at work. They all share the same Camera issue.

Powerwashing the devices or upgrading to the Chrome OS 101 Beta Channel hasn’t resolved the problem as of yet for anyone.

The good news is that Google has not only seen the bug reports but also chimed in on a Chrome OS Reddit thread as people were posting their issues there as well.

Here’s the official response from yesterday:

Hello Chromebook Community, Thank you again for taking time to bring this to our attention and apologize for any inconvenience this may be causing. Our team anticipates that the fix will be available later this week with a software update and is not related to your device. We will share an update on this thread once the fix has rolled out. We appreciate your patience as we work on resolving this. Best, Alisha – On behalf of Chrome OS

If all goes well then, this problem is expected to be resolved within a few days.

However, it still speaks to a bigger issue that’s becoming a recurring theme: Bugs, sometimes critical, are getting past Chrome OS testing efforts.

And that’s not something I expect to be resolved any time soon. I’d really like to hear from Google about some process changes in the testing phase to beef up the software quality assurance effort.

Updated on April 6 at 5:50 pm ET, adding the Pixelbook Go (due to an open bug report from February 8) and Acer Chromebook Spin 13 from Twitter.

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5 thoughts on “Some Chromebook cameras not working after a recent Chrome OS update (Updated)

  1. Thank you for this summary. With more features in chromeos and more platforms to support it looks troublesome. Given the tone of response of google they are not so worried, amazing.

  2. I experienced and reported this issue on an Acer Spin 13 (2021) so it has been a problem on other devices. Being on Canary, I see problems before most. The issue was identified and fixed, What I experienced could be a very different issue to what others are experiencing now but if you are in Developer mode (not developer channel) you can try the following to get the camera to work. This may be specific to my hardware but shouldn’t hurt anything to try.

    chmod -R o-r /sys/bus/nvmem/devices/nvm_active*
    stop cros-camera; start cros-camera

    I use Canary on a daily basis. It isn’t as horrible as people claim. I do find and report bugs. Most are things that you can work around in your daily use but occasionally you find something that makes it unusable. I simply drop back to the Dev Channel or to Beta and report the issue. When I find a bug, I may do a powerwash to make sure it is a real error and not something corrupted. I may do a recovery to stable, to make sure it isn’t hardware related, then update to Beta, Dev and then back to Canary. I have pleaded for years to get a Canary testing group going. I would love to compare notes with others on what I have found. Sometimes the issue is board specific and other times it affects a broader range of devices. Having a group of Canary users that can report they are seeing some issue and being able to get others to verify would, I think, be very valuable to the Chrome developers.

  3. Bugs are inevitable and good on Google for moving on this quickly.

    But seriously, what the heck is up with Google’s QA? It’s always been mediocre (at best), but the last couple years have been especially bad. How does the only laptop Google currently sells have this sort of bug slip through the cracks?

  4. As of this morning (4/08) with update to Version 100.0.4896.82 … both HP x2 11 and Lenovo Duet 5 are both camera working … thanks google

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