All about Google Chrome & Google Chrome OS

17 Dec 12 New Chrome extension: The play is with Chrome OS

Save image to Drive

The new Save to Google Drive extension recently released for Chrome is very useful for those using that browser. It’s been pointed out that the ability to save images to Google Drive could be a play by Google to go after Evernote. The Evernote cloud service is much more than a simple repository for captured images so I don’t think it has anything to worry about from Google with the new extension. I think Google is actually aiming the extension at new Chromebook owners looking to make the Chrome OS more like a desktop OS.

Just right-click on the image and save it to the cloud.

Google is in the midst of a big push to bring the Chromebook to those looking for a cheap but full-featured laptop. With decent Chromebooks now available at a bargain basement price ($199 – $249), Google is obviously trying to push its Chrome OS into the mainstream.

See related: 11 good Chrome web apps for the Chromebook

While Chromebooks are not for everyone, the ability to add any Chrome extension can make them meet a lot of consumers’ needs. These extensions, coupled with tight Google Drive integration out of the box, can make the Chromebook appealing to a greater audience.

Chrome OS File Manager
Chrome OS file manager: merging local and cloud storage

Chrome OS has a decent file manager app that puts the user’s Google Drive cloud storage right on the desktop. It facilitates moving files back and forth between local and cloud storage with extra software. Chromebook owners can attest to how useful it is to have complete access to the Google Drive on the desktop.

The new extension from Google makes it simple to capture any image directly to the Google Drive. Just right-click on the image and save it to the cloud. This adds a lot of utility to the Chromebook due to the integration with Google Drive mentioned earlier. 

There are other Chrome extensions that make this image saving very useful. The Aviary extension is a decent, free image editor that is especially useful on the Chromebook. It works with images stored on the Google Drive and handles a lot of image editing needs. 

Photo editing
Captured image edited in Aviary

The new Save to Google Drive extension takes on particular importance when Aviary is used. Just right-click any image to save it to the Google Drive and then edit it to your heart’s delight in Aviary. The resultant image can then be saved back to the Google Drive or easily moved to local storage on the Chromebook.

This sounds like a trivial feature but it is extremely powerful in practice. It is really useful for those also using the Evernote extension in Chrome. That makes it easy to shoot that edited image straight to an Evernote notebook in the cloud. This extensibility makes Chrome OS and those shiny new Chromebooks incredibly useful. You could say Chrome OS is getting more desktop-like over time.

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19 Jun 12 Samsung Series 5 550 Review: The Case for Google’s New …

Jared Newman /

Why buy a laptop that runs nothing but a web browser, when you could buy a laptop that runs everything? That’s the question that comes up in pretty much every debate about Chromebooks — a series of stripped-down laptops that are merely vessels for Google’s Chrome web browser.

Unlike Windows PCs or Macs, Chromebooks cannot install any software. If you can’t access it through the web browser, you can’t run it on a Chromebook.

What you can’t do defines so much of the Chromebook experience — the laptops have very little local storage as well — that the existence of the products has been tough to justify. This was especially true with the first generation of Chromebooks from 2011, which were so underpowered that they couldn’t even provide a decent web browsing experience.

But now there’s a new Chromebook on the market that fixes many of the old ones’ problems. It’s fast enough to handle dozens of tabs across multiple windows. It’s got an excellent trackpad and keyboard. The Chrome OS software has been refined, so it rarely gets in the way of surfing the web. Best of all, the price is a mere $450 for the Wi-Fi model. (A 3G-equipped version with 100 MB of free Verizon data per month costs $550.)

During the E3 trade show in Los Angeles this month, I used a loaner Chromebook — built by Samsung and dubbed the Series 5 550 — as my primary laptop. I took notes on the Chromebook during press conferences and filed my stories through the WordPress blogging platform. When I needed to edit an image, I used the online photo editor Pixlr. I brought my three year-old Windows laptop as a security blanket, but never used it.

In the end, I was convinced that I’d happily ditch my Windows-based travel laptop in favor of a Chromebook.

Understand that I’m very close to the ideal user that Google envisions. Chrome is already my browser of choice, and I rarely use native applications. When possible, I prefer web apps, because they don’t clog up my system and they reside in my existing browser windows for easy access. If I need a document editor, I can get by with Google Docs. The Chromebook required no major tweaks to my work routine.

The latest version of Chrome OS includes some big changes that make the Chromebook more useful. Browser windows now reside in a desktop-like setting, so you can resize them, minimize them and place multiple windows side-by-side. Users can also pin their favorite web apps to the bottom taskbar for easy access alongside other browser windows.

The hardware is attractive too, with an aluminum shell and palm rest that give the Chromebook a hint of MacBook-like quality. (Much of the laptop, however, is clad in plastic.) The island-style keyboard is firm and responsive, and although the jumbo matte trackpad isn’t as smooth as the MacBook’s glass panel, it’s not as jerky as the trackpads on so many run-of-the-mill Windows laptops. The Chromebook’s speakers — usually a throwaway feature on laptops — are loud and rich enough to hear the bassline while listening to music.

The only major pain point on the new Chromebook is its 12.1-inch display, whose resolution is a measly 1280-800 pixels. It’s not a dealbreaker — and the matte screen was great at fending off outdoor glare — but when on-screen text runs small, it can be tough to read.

Other nitpicks: I wish the web app list in Chrome OS showed up in new tabs as it does in the desktop version of Chrome, instead of in a separate menu that I never got used to visiting. Also, when you’ve got a pinned app open already, it’d be nice if clicking the pinned icon led you to the relevant tab instead of opening a new tab every time.

On a few occasions, Chrome OS crashed, requiring a hard reboot by holding down the power button. In one instance, a website didn’t recognize my version of Chrome as a supported browser. (I got around this with an extension that tells websites a different browser is in use.)

I should also note that the original review unit Google sent had problems staying connected to Wi-Fi for more than 15 minutes at a time. One other reviewer, at PCWorld, had the same issue, but a Samsung representative said she was unaware of any other reported problems. After ruling out that it was a problem on my end, Google sent a second unit, which had no problems, so I’m assuming this was a freak defect.

Small gripes aside, the new Chromebook was light, fast, and quick to resume from standby, which made it an excellent travel companion. But back to the original question: Why limit yourself to a browser-based PC in the first place?

You need only look to Apple for the answer. Apple is successful because it builds its hardware to carry out the goals of its software. And that’s exactly what Google and Samsung have done with the new Chromebook. Gone is the clutter that you get with a traditional laptop–things like the row of F1 through F12 keys that you never use, the long bootup times, the annoying notifications and sluggishness from software you installed and forgot about.

By contrast, the Chromebook is built solely to help you browse the web faster. Instead of a caps lock key, there’s a search button. Instead of F-number keys, there are buttons for switching tabs, switching to full screen mode and moving backward and forward in the browser. You’ll find some of these functions on other laptops, but they must share real estate with the legacy keys they’re obligated to support.

Chromebooks are liberated from the baggage. Even the laptop’s storage limitations embody that idea: Instead of loading up the machine with pictures, music and video, just leave them on a networked PC or hard drive, or in a cloud storage service, and only store copies of the ones you immediately need.

Of course, there’s the issue of offline use. Most of the Chromebook’s apps require Internet access, but for those who scoff at the idea, I challenge you to unplug your router and see how much you get done on any other PC. Chrome OS could use some more built-in offline tools, such as a full-featured image editor and a version of Docs that lets you edit files and not just view them, but if you live and breathe offline, Chromebooks aren’t for you to begin with.

I’ve always been optimistic about Chromebooks, and was disappointed that the first wave of them were such a letdown. With the Series 5 550, Samsung has finally executed on Google’s vision. Chrome OS still feels like a futuristic concept, but it now it serves a practical purpose: The new Chromebook is a thin, light, inexpensive laptop with well-designed hardware that’s made for web browsing. You’ll have a tough time finding other laptops that meet all those criteria.

MORE: Apple Retina MacBook Pro Review: The MacBook Pro, Only More — and Less — So

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30 May 12 Samsung releases Chrome desktop computer

Samsung on Tuesday released the first Chrome desktop computer that essentially shifts work into Internet “cloud” using a version of the Google Web browser as its operating system.

Staunch Google partner Samsung unveiled Series 3 Chromebox along with a beefed-up Series 5 Chromebook that is the latest in a line of Chrome-powered laptops introduced last year by Google.

“This is the next step in our journey toward an always-new computing experience focused on speed, simplicity and security,” said Google director of product management Caesar Sengupta.

The Series 5 Chromebook with its 12.1-inch (31 centimeter) screen weighs 3.3 pounds (1.48 kilograms) and measures less than an inch (2.5 centimeters) thick.

The Chromebox measures just 7.6 x 7.6 x 1.3-inches (19 x 19 x 3.3 centimeters).

Buyers will need to provide their own monitors, keyboards, and mouse devices.

The new Chromebook and the Chromebox feature dual-core Intel processors, 16-gigabyte solid state drives, and built-in wireless internet connectivity.

“The new Samsung Series 5 Chromebook and Series 3 Chromebox provide the rapid, convenient and ever-improving computing experience that was so well-received in our first Chromebook,” said Samsung marketing vice president Todd Bouman.

The Chromebox was priced at $330 and available at US and British online shops including,, and It was to roll out in additional countries in coming weeks.

The Series 5 Chromebook Wi-Fi model was priced at $450 and a version with 3G telecom data service capabilities was priced at $550.

Google built its Chrome operating into notebook computers in a challenge to software at the heart of Microsoft’s empire.

The computing model shifts operating software into the Internet letting data centers store data and tend to tough tasks.

Shifting operating software to banks of servers on the Internet means that Google tends to matters such as updating programs and fending off hackers and malicious software.

Advantages include quick start-ups from disk-drive free machines, long battery life, and essentially being able to dive into one’s desktop data from anywhere on the Internet.

“With a new, app-centric user interface rolling out today and thousands of available web apps, we couldn’t be more excited about this evolution,” Sengupta said.

“This next-generation hardware from Samsung based on Intel processors and hardware-accelerated software delivers nearly three times the performance of the first-generation Chromebooks.”

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15 Apr 12 Chrome OS introduces Aura window manager

Don’t look now, but Google has officially revealed their intentions to go after Windows and OS X. Chrome OS 19 has arrived for Samsung Series 5 and Acer AC700 Chromebooks running the developer channel, and the changes it brings may shock you.

Why? Because Chrome OS suddenly looks like it’s much more than “just a bootable web browser.”

The new Aura window manager has landed, bringing with it a number of features that you’d expect from a traditional OS. For starters, there’s the Shelf along the bottom of the screen. It’s set to hide when you’ve got a browser window maximized by default, but you can choose to have it always on top or auto-hide, too, just like the Windows taskbar or OS X dock.

On the left-hand side of the Shelf are a handful of Google-pinned shortcuts: the Chrome icon opens a new tab, and Gmail, Google search, Docs, and YouTube round out the list. Your open browser windows appear next, and the favicon for the currently active tab is displayed to remind you which session is which.

There’s also a small, white grid icon. Clicking it displays your Chrome apps floating above your current wallpaper (yes, you can have wallpaper now, too). As a result, apps are no longer displayed on the new tab page. Instead, it’s flashback time: a selection of eight frequently-visited sites appear once again, and you can rearrange and replace to your heart’s content.

In the top right corner of your windows, you’ll notice two controls: one to close and another to reposition. Clicking and pulling down minimizes the current window, while clicking and pulling left or right splits the screen and snaps to the edge. A plain old click will re-maximize your window.

Although glitchy right now, window borders also sport transparency effects. Artifacts frequently appear when moving windows about, but it’s the kind of growing pain you expect with a developer channel release.

The Chrome OS Scratchpad app has also been re-tooled, and it’s now a bit more like Wordpad. A full array of formatting tools is available, from bulleted or numbered lists to highlighting. As before, documents you create in Scratchpad are quickly synced to your Google Docs storage.

Another cloud feature has been added, this one to the updated photo editor. Photos can finally be uploaded individually or in bulk to Picasa. Curiously, it’s the only option currently available when you click the share icon in the photo editor — Google Plus hasn’t been added yet, though that seems inevitable.

In addition to an updated photo editor, the offline media player has been tweaked, too. Unfortunately while the audio player still worked nicely, the video player crashed every time I tried to load a clip.

Hardware acceleration features have been improved, and overall Chrome OS 19 feels substantially faster than version 18. One thing that really seems to help is that the Chat for Google app is less greedy with system resources than it used to be. Since it wants to run all the time when you’re signed in, a more efficient chat app provides a real boost to the whole OS.

The downside for now is that the update is incredibly unstable. Tabs have been crashing frequently when I switch back and forth, and background tabs often reload when I bring one to the foreground.

Still, with all these new features and tweaks in tow and improved handling of multiple monitor setups, it’s clear that Google feels that Chrome OS is nearly ready to go toe-to-toe with Windows and OS X. The only thing holding them up right now is a lack apps and games that can truly rival the performance offered by their native desktop counterparts.

With NaCl under the hood, however, and access to loads of offline storage via Chrome’s APIs, Chrome apps are going to catch up. When they do, it’s game on.

More at Chrome Releases

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11 Apr 12 Chrome OS Gets a Desktop Feel with New 'Aura' Interface

Google’s Linux-based Chrome OS may have started out as a pared-down operating system focused heavily on the browser, but a new interface that debuted on Monday is starting to feel a lot more traditional.

Just added to the developer channel for Acer AC700 and Samsung Series 5 Chromebooks, version 19.0.1048.17 of Chrome OS includes a number of new features as well as improvements to security and stability, according to Google Chrome blogger Orit Mazor, who made the announcement on Monday.

Included among those new features are new modes for handling multiple monitors, an updated Scratchpad app, updates to the software’s local audio and video player, and support for tar, gz, bzip2 files.

Most notable among them, however, are the redesigned user interface and updated window manager, both of which suggest Google is recognizing at least some of the benefits of the traditional desktop OS.

‘Large-Scale Animated Transitions’

Though it’s been in the works for some time, this is the first time Google’s new Aura window manager has come into the public eye.

The goal of the Aura project is to create “a new desktop window manager and shell environment with modern capabilities,” the project team explains, with a user interface that offers “rich visuals, large-scale animated transitions, and effects that can be produced only with the assistance of hardware acceleration.”

The cross-platform software apparently delivers a traditional desktop, a taskbar known as “the shelf,” and an app launcher. Rather than assuming that users will always want a full-screen view of whatever they’re looking at, one page at a time, there will be the option to resize, move, and view multiple windows at once, much the way you can with a traditional desktop operating system.

CR-48 users, it should be noted, won’t be getting this Chrome 19 update, but will go “back onto the release train” thereafter, Mazor said.

The video below from Francois Beaufort offers an early taste of what the new interface is like.

‘Admitting Defeat’?

When Google launched Chrome OS, its primary goals were to offer something lightweight and minimal, as it explained in the original blog post back in 2009.

In this era of increasingly mobile-style desktop interfaces, I think it’s fascinating to see Google now moving in what appears to be the opposite direction. On the other hand, we’ve also seen suggestions that Android is headed for the desktop, so perhaps it’s not that big a surprise.

Is this Google “admitting defeat,” as TechCrunch has suggested? Or is it just one more sign of the convergence of the mobile and desktop computing worlds?

My vote is for the latter. “Post-PC” advocates can keep all their hype; “PC-plus” is where the future lies, and flexibility like this is a key part of what will help make that happen.

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14 Jan 12 New Samsung Chromebook is a cheap, plastic MacBook

If you missed the new Series 5 Chromebook at Consumer Electronics Show 2012, there’s a reason. Samsung practically hid the thing, during an event of otherwise big, big announcements from the South Korean electronics giant. Disappointment is my reaction to the new offering, which, regrettably doesn’t temp me back to using a Chromebook.

I asked my colleague Tim Conneally, who got up close to the new Chromebook in this video, for his reaction. “My first impression: it looks like a plastic MacBook”. Ah, yeah, hasn’t Samsung been having problems with Apple, fending off accusations of imitating products. Judge for yourself, from the photo and link to Tim’s video. Doesn’t the new Series 5 Chromebook resemble MacBook but donned in plastic?

But there’s something more important than missing metal. My bigger concern is performance, to which Tim dismally responded: “The difference in handling is imperceptible”. The specs are largely unchanged from the original. System memory is still 2GB and the processor is less crappy. Not good, just not as bad. Samsung is unleashing an unworthy successor and one that makes Chromebook less appealing than the original — seeing as v1 isn’t enough and the new one isn’t much more than a new MacBook-like enclosure and speedier processor. Specs are otherwise the same, or seem to be based on the little info released by Samsung.

A Real Under-performer

For two months last summer, I used a Samsung Series 5 Chromebook as my primary PC in the first weeks and as my only one later on. I found the overall cloud experience to be refreshing, no liberating, but Chromebook grated on me the longer I used it. The problem: Performance. On the software side, Google continually updates Chrome OS, which got better with each of the many updates. But the hardware is steadfast. At the least, Chromebook needs 4GB of memory. But really the processor — and, more importantly, the graphics chip — simply aren’t good enough.

Living in the cloud doesn’t free Chromebook from daily computing demands. If anything there are more, because so much activity is conducted online and so many services require Adobe Flash, which still seems wonky to me on Chrome OS — that’s without the demands placed on CPU, GPU and Net bandwidth.

In early October, when writing about giving up Chromebook, I didn’t fuss much over what was for me sluggish performance. I’m a power user and, presumably, atypical of the type of person most likely to use a system running Chrome OS. But after getting back to a real computer, my feelings about performance lag are more pronounced.

Currently, I’m using the Lenovo ThinkPad T420s with: 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 processor (with 3MB L3 cache); 14-inch matte screen (with 1600 x 900 resolution); 160GB Intel sold-state drive; 4GB of DDR3 memory (1333MHz); DVD burner; WebCam; Ethernet; WiFi N, memory card reader; 3 USB ports, one each HDMI and VGA port; and Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit. The original Chromebook — and, sadly its successor — isn’t in the same league. Chrome OS changed my computing habits, so I still largely do everything in the browser, but there’s real performance on ThinkPad T420s and none of the waiting common with the Samsung Series 5.

My Chromebook config: 12.1-inch LED display with 1280 x 800 resolution and 16:10 aspect ratio; 1.66GHz Intel Atom N570 processor; 2GB DDR3 memory (not expandable); 16GB solid-state storage; integrated NM10 graphics; ALC272 integrated audio; stereo speakers (which in my tests deliver surprisingly rich sound for the class of machine); internal microphone; 1-megapixel webcam; WiFi N; Verizon 3G (on higher-end model); headphone/Mic jack; two USB ports; 4-in-1 memory card reader (SD / SDHC / SDXC / MMC); and 6-cell battery (with stated life of 8.5 hours).

Specs are sketchy, but Samsung claims the new Chromebook has 3X performance from the dual-core Celeron processor, which granted is a step up from the single-core Atom processor on v1. But Tim’s assessment isn’t encouraging, since he has Samsung’s original Chromebook and has experience enough for spot comparison.

There’s no Samsung press release I could find about the new Chromebook, nor does Samsung’s Flickr account — loaded with photos of everything else. There’s plenty on Samsung’s Series 9 ultrabook, which design and features are jaw-dropping. As for Series 5 Chromebook, it’s a plastic MacBook with few of the benefits.

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22 Nov 11 Google Chromebooks Discounted to $299 by Samsung, Acer

(NASDAQ:GOOG) Chromebooks, the notebooks running the lightweight Chrome
Operating System designed for powering Web applications through the Chrome
browser, are getting discounted to $299.

Google introduced the Chrome notebooks from
Samsung and Acer at the Google I/O developer conference last May as speedy machines
that boot up in less than eight seconds and power down in less than that.

The Samsung
Series 5 Chromebook launched for $429 for WiFi-only with a WiFi+3G model
costing $499. Acer’s Acer AC700 Chromebook cost $349 at launch. The new $299
price point is for the WiFi versions only.

The Series 5
was originally launched in titan silver and arctic white. Samsung is now selling
a black version of its WiFi only Samsung Chromebook Series 5 for $349, a notebook that is currently available to U.S. users only.

Though Google
positioned the price cuts as holiday discounts in a blog post,
the cuts also may signal that Chromebooks aren’t selling as strongly as the
OEMs and Google would have liked. Recall that Logitech slashed the price of its
Google TV Revue companion box from $299 to $249 before its most recent $99 fire
sale en route to discontinuing the product.

Google is
trying to punch up interest. The search engine is inviting potential customers
to test Chromebooks at the Samsung Experience in New York City and has tapped Virgin America to let travelers on four
different flight routes check out and use Samsung Series 5 Chromebooks paired
with complimentary WiFi access free for the duration of their flight.

Folks who fly
Virgin America from San Francisco, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth or Boston
can “check out” a Series 5 Chromebook from a so-called “Chrome
Zone” near their departure gate.

Chromebooks and the rest of the Chrome ecosystem are getting upgrades. Google
refreshed the Chromebook operating system—which, like the Chrome browser, gets
upgraded every six weeks. Google claims Chromebooks now sport a new log-in

Google refreshed the New Tab page in Chrome to make it easier for users to
access and manage applications and bookmarks; these include shortcuts to the
File Manager on Chromebooks and to music applications and games in the Chrome
Web Store.



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