Google is bringing a slew of AI-powered software features to Chromebook Plus laptops

Two weeks ago, Google announced a slew of new AI-powered features at its I/O developer conference. Microsoft followed suit last week with the introduction of its Copilot+ PCs which, you guessed it, have a slew of new AI-powered features. Somewhat predictably, Google announces its answer to the Copilot+ PC initiative with… the humble Chromebook. The Chromebook Plus line that was first announced last October, to be specific. When Google first announced Chromebook Plus, it focused on a combination of more powerful hardware and some modest AI software features compared to what you’d get on regular Chromebooks.

Now, though, Google is making good on what it first announced: Chromebook Plus models will get a host of features that Google first teased last year, as well as some new ones we haven’t heard of before.

Google AI features for Chromebook Plus


For starters, the “help me write” feature that Google launched earlier this year is now available on all Chromebook Plus laptops. This should work in any text input field you find on a website, whether that’s a Google product like Gmail or a site like Facebook. You can use it to get a prompt, or have it analyze what you’ve already written to make it more formal or funnier (although Google did admit that the jury is out on whether AI can actually be funny). Basically it’s a generative text tool that you can use on the web. It’s not surprising to see it appear on Chromebooks, since Google said back in February that you could enable it in Chrome for Windows and Mac. But Google says it’s being implemented at the OS level on Chromebooks, so you can use it outside the browser

The next feature is another one that Google announced last fall, and it’s purely for fun. A built-in image generator lets you generate wallpapers and backgrounds for video calls by typing in a prompt. It’s not at all different from what you would do with other image generators, although I can’t yet say how fast it works or how well it keeps up with what you ask of it. Google has added some prompts you can try or adjust to help you get started.

Chromebook Plus AI-generated wallpapersChromebook Plus AI-generated wallpapers


The latest update is that the Magic Editor in Google Photos is coming exclusively to laptops as a feature for Chromebook Plus devices. Magic Editor was first available on Google’s Pixel devices and was part of the Google One subscription for a while, but now it’s more widely available, provided your phone meets the minimum specs. As for laptops, Chromebook Plus models are the only ones that can run Magic Editor. The reasoning seems pretty simple: Chromebooks can run Android apps, including Google Photos.

Magical editor from Google PhotosMagical editor from Google Photos


But if you want to mess around with Magic Editor on a bigger screen than your phone, doing it on a Chromebook seems like a good option. As a refresher, Magic Editor basically lets you manipulate your photos in different ways to change the reality of what you’ve captured, but much faster and easier than something like Photoshop. You can select people or objects to move them, make the app turn a cloudy sky blue, resize or delete other objects, and generally make it even harder to trust that photos you take or share are authentic.

Unsurprisingly, Google is also building its Gemini chatbot more directly into Chromebooks by pre-installing the app and placing it directly on the launcher. More importantly, Google is giving Chromebook Plus buyers a full year of Google One AI Premium subscription, which brings Gemini features directly into Gmail, Docs, and other Workplace apps. It also includes access to Gemini Advanced, which adds support for things like uploading documents for analysis and access to Gemini Pro 1.5 and the 1 million token context window (which Google said would soon grow to 2 million tokens).

Considering that the Google One AI plan costs $20 per month, double the standard price for the 2TB storage plan, this is a pretty good benefit for Chromebook Plus buyers, even if they don’t care about Gemini to use. And it looks like even if you already subscribe to another Google One plan, you can get the year of Google One’s AI option.

There are also a number of new software tweaks coming to all Chromebooks. Probably the most notable is Game Dashboard, a sort of control center for gaming-related activities. While most Chromebooks still can’t run many games, there are now more options between cloud gaming services like GeForce Now and Android titles. In fact, Google said that 25 percent of Chromebook owners use them for gaming, and that they’ve seen a 40 percent year-over-year increase in the number of people gaming on a Chromebook.

ChromeOS gaming dashboardChromeOS gaming dashboard


Game Dashboard has a handful of features, but the most notable is an extensive key mapping system. This allows you to use games designed for a controller or touchscreen and map their buttons to different keys on your laptop. For Android games with specific swipe patterns, you can say that pressing a key is the same as swiping in a certain direction.

It also offers one-click recording – which both records your gameplay and provides a playback of you playing via the laptop’s webcam, if you want to be in the video. And you can also quickly upload to various services like YouTube or Discord from the Game Dashboard. This feature is exclusive to Chromebook Plus, at least for now.

ChromeOS calendar and tasks integrationChromeOS calendar and tasks integration


Other new features include the integration of Google Tasks into the menu bar. There’s already a calendar widget that shows you your upcoming appointments there, and now it also shows items from your to-do list, giving you a solid overview of what’s coming up. in your day. The screen recorder can now generate GIFs, something we all want to be able to do at any time. And now you can also set up an Android phone through your Chromebook. If you scan a QR code on your Chromebook with the phone you set up, your Google account and Wi-Fi data will all be synced.

But it doesn’t stop there. Googling Also has announced a number of new software features to look forward to, just like last fall. I appreciate the little sneak peak of what’s to come, and since Google is indeed delivering on what they showed in October, I’m confident we’ll see most of these sooner or later.

Chief among these is Google’s Gemini-powered “help me read” feature. As the name suggests, it provides summaries of web pages, documents, or PDFs, and lets you ask follow-up questions. Of course, your results may vary depending on how useful this all is. Google is also working on an AI-powered overview screen that will appear when you open your laptop. Instead of throwing you back to the dozens of tabs you have, it will attempt to organize and display the apps and pages you have open. so you can decide where you want to go from there. It also takes into account what you do in Chrome on other devices, so if you’ve finished reading on your phone, you can get back to it on your laptop.

Google Help Me Read AI featureGoogle Help Me Read AI feature


In a similar vein, there’s a new focus tool that combines Google Tasks and YouTube Music with a countdown timer. You can basically pick an urgent task, a playlist, and a timer and you’ll go into do not disturb mode while you get back to what you’re supposed to be doing. Not exactly a game-changer, but smart.

ChromeOS calendar and tasks integrationChromeOS calendar and tasks integration


Perhaps most interesting is a new accessibility feature based on the hands-free ‘Project Gameface’ tool it showed off at I/O in 2023 and 2024. Google says it’s building Gameface directly into ChromeOS, which will use facial and gesture tracking to help people do things on their computers without a keyboard or mouse. It’s “early” in the project timeline, so I don’t think we’ll see this for another six months, but it’s certainly an important feature that could make Chromebooks a lot more useful to more people.

Hands-free operation via GoogleHands-free operation via Google


Of course, Google and its hardware partners are launching a slew of new Chromebook Plus devices to go along with all this. You can read more about the new hardware here. As for the software, everything should be rolling out today, barring anything Google promises for a later date.

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