After rolling out to Android, Mac, Windows, and Linux, version 73 of Chrome OS is now available. Notable features include Linux support on Chromebooks managed by enterprise admins, settings changes, and improved out-of-memory management.
This release continues Chrome 72’s push to simplify settings by adding a new “Sync and Google services” section. It consolidates options — previously under “Privacy” — related to data that Google collects in Chrome, while adding three new features. However, the new grouping is not yet widely rolled out.
If Chrome Sync is enabled when you log-in with your Google Account, there is a new “Enhanced spell check” and “Safe browsing extended reporting” feature. There is also a new “Make searches and browsing better” option that lets Chrome collect anonymized URLs.
While not tied to Chrome 73, version 5.3 of the Camera app adds support for 3 or 10-second timers before photos and videos. This update also adds grids with the main viewfinder featuring a simple on/off switch, with 3×3, 4×4, and Golden ratio options available in settings. There is also a mirror mode for use with external cameras.
Support for hardware media keys allows play/pause to control media playing from websites. With the Media Sessions API, supported sites can also accept input from previous and next track buttons when Chrome is active, or is in the background. On Chrome OS devices running Pie, media key support extends to Android apps.
The official changelog today notes “better Chrome OS out-of-memory management,” and two media-related changes. Users can switch to native media controls in the video player, while the Audio Focus API from Android ensures that “only one app can hold audio focus at a time.”
Linux apps on Chrome OS for consumer launched last year with version 69. Chrome 73 makes this feature available on Chromebooks managed by enterprises. Admins can now enable or disable the virtual machines required to run Linux applications, like Android Studio.
Additionally, Linux apps can now gain access to the Android “Play files” folder, and share files/folders with Linux apps. There is also improved native Drive integration with support for the Drive->Computers root in the Files app.
The About screen now notes if your Chrome OS device is being managed by an enterprise admin.
Chrome 73 begins testing Auto Picture-in-Picture for “installed” Progressive Web Apps. Videos will be able to enter and leave PiP without manual input or shortcuts. This feature — still in developer Origin Trial testing — is particularly useful for video conferencing as users often switch through different windows and apps. PiP is also testing a quick shortcut to return to the tab that video originated from right in the floating window, as well as a “Skip Ad” button on sites like YouTube.
Meanwhile, desktop PWA icons will be able to feature unread counts and event types as part of the new Badging API. This visual indicator on a platform like Chrome OS helps create more native web experiences.
On the accessibility front, eSpeak for Chrome OS adds text-to-speech in dozens of languages, while Braille displays can now be paired over Bluetooth — instead of just USB — with Chromebooks.
Other features meant for administrators and kiosk use includes:
- Report additional telemetry data for Chrome OS devices
- Alerts regarding upcoming removal of remaining Chrome Supervised Users
- Demo Mode: Switch language setting
- Demo Mode: Offline enrollment and setup functionality
Chrome OS 73 is rolling out now and will be available for all Chromebooks over the next several weeks.
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