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 that have, you guessed it, a slew of new AI-powered features. Somewhat predictably, Google is announcing its answer to the Copilot+ PC initiative with… the humble Chromebook. The Chromebook Plus line that it first announced last October, to be specific. When Google first announced Chromebook Plus, it focused on a combination of higher-performance hardware as well as some modest AI software features compared to what you’d get on regular Chromebooks.
Now, however, Google is delivering on what it first announced: Chromebook Plus models are getting a host of features that Google first teased last year as well as some new ones we haven’t heard about before.
Google

AI features
For starters, the “help me write” feature Google soft-launched earlier this year is now available on all Chromebook Plus laptops. This should work across any text entry 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 more funny (though Google did admit the jury’s out on whether AI can actually be funny). Basically it’s a generative text tool that you can use across the web. It’s not surprising to see it show up in Chromebooks, as Google said you could turn it on in Chrome for Windows and Mac back in February. But Google says that it’s being implemented at the OS level on Chromebooks so that you can use it outside the browser
The next feature is another one Google announced last fall, and it’s purely for fun. A built-in image generator will enable you to generate wallpaper and video call backgrounds by typing in a prompt. It’s not at all dissimilar to what you’d do with other image generators, though I can’t yet say how fast it works or how well it sticks to what you ask it for. Google is including a few prompts for you to try or customize to get you started.
Google
The last update is that the Magic Editor in Google Photos is coming to laptops exclusively as a feature for Chromebook Plus devices. First available on Google’s Pixel devices, Magic Editor was part of the Google One subscription plan for a while, but now it’s more broadly available provided your phone meets the minimum specs. As for laptops, though, Chromebook Plus models are the only ones that can use Magic Editor. The reasoning seems pretty simple: Chromebooks can run Android apps, including Google Photos. 
Google
Still, if you’ve wanted to mess around with Magic Editor on a bigger screen than your phone, doing so on a Chromebook seems like a decent option. As a refresher, Magic Editor basically lets you manipulate your photos in a variety of ways to change the reality of what you captured, but much faster and easier than using something like Photoshop. You can select people or objects to move them around, have the app turn a cloudy sky blue, resize or delete other objects and generally make it even harder to trust that photos you create or share are authentic.
Unsurprisingly, Google is also baking its Gemini chatbot more directly into Chromebooks by having the app pre-installed and sitting right on the launcher. More significant though is that Google is giving Chromebook Plus buyers a full year of its Google One AI Premium plan, which puts Gemini features right in 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 its 1 million token context window (which Google said would grow to 2 million tokens soon).
Given that the Google One AI plan costs $20 a month, double the standard pricing for the 2TB storage plan, this is a pretty good perk for Chromebook Plus buyers, even if they don’t care about using Gemini. And it sounds like even if you already subscribe to another Google One plan, you’ll be able to get the year of Google One’s AI option.
Smaller tweaks
There are also a number of new software tweaks coming to all Chromebooks too. Probably most notable is Game Dashboard, a sort of control center for gaming-related activities. While most Chromebooks still can’t run a lot of games, there are more options now between cloud gaming services like GeForce Now and Android titles. Indeed, Google said that 25 percent of Chromebook owners use them for games, and they’ve seen a 40 percent year-over-year increase in the number of people gaming on a Chromebook.
Google
Game Dashboard has a handful of features, but the most notable one is a comprehensive key-mapping system. This lets you take games that are designed for a controller or touch screen and map their buttons to various keys on your laptop. For Android games with specific swiping patterns, you’ll be able to say pressing a key is the same as doing a certain swipe in a certain direction.
It also provides one-click recording — that’ll start recording both your gameplay as well as a view of you playing via the laptop’s webcam, if you want to be in the video. And you can quickly upload to various services like YouTube or Discord from the Game Dashboard, as well. This feature is exclusive to Chromebook Plus, at least for now.
Google
Other new features include Google Tasks integration into the menu bar — there’s already a calendar widget that shows you your upcoming appointments there, and now it’ll also show you items from your Tasks list, making it a solid one-top look at what’s coming in your day. The screen recorder can now generate GIFs, something we all want to be able to do at any time. And you can set up an Android phone via your Chromebook now, as well. If you scan a QR code on your Chromebook with the phone you’re setting up, your Google account and Wi-Fi info will all sync over.
Future updates
It doesn’t stop there, though. Google also announced a bunch of forthcoming software features to look forward to, just like they did last fall. I appreciate the little sneak peak at what’s coming, and since Google is indeed delivering on what they showed in October I feel confident we’ll see most of these sooner or later.
Chief among them is Google’s Gemini-powered “help me read” feature. As the name suggests, it’ll offer summaries of web pages, documents or PDFs, and you’ll be able to ask follow-up questions. Of course, your results may vary on how useful this all is. Google’s also working on an AI-powered overview screen that’ll pop up when you open your laptop — rather than throw you back into the dozens of tabs you have, it’ll try and organize and show you the apps and pages you have open so you can decide where you want to go from there. It’ll also take into account things you’re doing on Chrome on other devices, so if you’ve been reading on your phone you can jump back in on your laptop.
Google
In the same vein, there’s a new focus tool that combines Google Tasks and YouTube Music with a count-down timer. You can basically pick an urgent task, a playlist and a timer and you’ll go into do not disturb mode while you crank away on what you’re supposed to be doing. Not exactly a game-changer, but it’s kind of clever.
Google
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 right into ChromeOS, which will use face and gesture tracking to help people do things on their computer without a keyboard or mouse. It’s “early” in the project’s timeline, so I don’t think we’ll see this six months from now, but it’s definitely an important feature that could make Chromebooks a lot more useful for more people.
Google
Of course, Google and its hardware partners are launching a slew of new Chromebook Plus devices to go along with all of this — you can read about the new hardware here. As for the software, everything should start rolling out today, aside from all of the stuff Google is promising for a later date.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/google-is-bringing-a-slew-of-ai-powered-software-features-to-chromebook-plus-laptops-130049652.html?src=rss

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 that have, you guessed it, a slew of new AI-powered features. Somewhat predictably, Google is announcing its answer to the Copilot+ PC initiative with… the humble Chromebook. The Chromebook Plus line that it first announced last October, to be specific. When Google first announced Chromebook Plus, it focused on a combination of higher-performance hardware as well as some modest AI software features compared to what you’d get on regular Chromebooks.

Now, however, Google is delivering on what it first announced: Chromebook Plus models are getting a host of features that Google first teased last year as well as some new ones we haven’t heard about before.

Google

AI features

For starters, the “help me write” feature Google soft-launched earlier this year is now available on all Chromebook Plus laptops. This should work across any text entry 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 more funny (though Google did admit the jury’s out on whether AI can actually be funny). Basically it’s a generative text tool that you can use across the web. It’s not surprising to see it show up in Chromebooks, as Google said you could turn it on in Chrome for Windows and Mac back in February. But Google says that it’s being implemented at the OS level on Chromebooks so that you can use it outside the browser

The next feature is another one Google announced last fall, and it’s purely for fun. A built-in image generator will enable you to generate wallpaper and video call backgrounds by typing in a prompt. It’s not at all dissimilar to what you’d do with other image generators, though I can’t yet say how fast it works or how well it sticks to what you ask it for. Google is including a few prompts for you to try or customize to get you started.

Google

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

Google

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

Unsurprisingly, Google is also baking its Gemini chatbot more directly into Chromebooks by having the app pre-installed and sitting right on the launcher. More significant though is that Google is giving Chromebook Plus buyers a full year of its Google One AI Premium plan, which puts Gemini features right in 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 its 1 million token context window (which Google said would grow to 2 million tokens soon).

Given that the Google One AI plan costs $20 a month, double the standard pricing for the 2TB storage plan, this is a pretty good perk for Chromebook Plus buyers, even if they don’t care about using Gemini. And it sounds like even if you already subscribe to another Google One plan, you’ll be able to get the year of Google One’s AI option.

Smaller tweaks

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

Google

Game Dashboard has a handful of features, but the most notable one is a comprehensive key-mapping system. This lets you take games that are designed for a controller or touch screen and map their buttons to various keys on your laptop. For Android games with specific swiping patterns, you’ll be able to say pressing a key is the same as doing a certain swipe in a certain direction.

It also provides one-click recording — that’ll start recording both your gameplay as well as a view of you playing via the laptop’s webcam, if you want to be in the video. And you can quickly upload to various services like YouTube or Discord from the Game Dashboard, as well. This feature is exclusive to Chromebook Plus, at least for now.

Google

Other new features include Google Tasks integration into the menu bar — there’s already a calendar widget that shows you your upcoming appointments there, and now it’ll also show you items from your Tasks list, making it a solid one-top look at what’s coming in your day. The screen recorder can now generate GIFs, something we all want to be able to do at any time. And you can set up an Android phone via your Chromebook now, as well. If you scan a QR code on your Chromebook with the phone you’re setting up, your Google account and Wi-Fi info will all sync over.

Future updates

It doesn’t stop there, though. Google also announced a bunch of forthcoming software features to look forward to, just like they did last fall. I appreciate the little sneak peak at what’s coming, and since Google is indeed delivering on what they showed in October I feel confident we’ll see most of these sooner or later.

Chief among them is Google’s Gemini-powered “help me read” feature. As the name suggests, it’ll offer summaries of web pages, documents or PDFs, and you’ll be able to ask follow-up questions. Of course, your results may vary on how useful this all is. Google’s also working on an AI-powered overview screen that’ll pop up when you open your laptop — rather than throw you back into the dozens of tabs you have, it’ll try and organize and show you the apps and pages you have open so you can decide where you want to go from there. It’ll also take into account things you’re doing on Chrome on other devices, so if you’ve been reading on your phone you can jump back in on your laptop.

Google

In the same vein, there’s a new focus tool that combines Google Tasks and YouTube Music with a count-down timer. You can basically pick an urgent task, a playlist and a timer and you’ll go into do not disturb mode while you crank away on what you’re supposed to be doing. Not exactly a game-changer, but it’s kind of clever.

Google

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 right into ChromeOS, which will use face and gesture tracking to help people do things on their computer without a keyboard or mouse. It’s “early” in the project’s timeline, so I don’t think we’ll see this six months from now, but it’s definitely an important feature that could make Chromebooks a lot more useful for more people.

Google

Of course, Google and its hardware partners are launching a slew of new Chromebook Plus devices to go along with all of this — you can read about the new hardware here. As for the software, everything should start rolling out today, aside from all of the stuff Google is promising for a later date.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/google-is-bringing-a-slew-of-ai-powered-software-features-to-chromebook-plus-laptops-130049652.html?src=rss …Read More

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