The new Chromebook Pixel, which I recently reviewed, can keep its Wi-Fi connection active while in sleep mode. This is just the first of several potential features Google is working on for the Chrome OS, all of which are part of an effort called Lucid Sleep.
Owners of the latest Pixel laptop will see a settings option to "Keep Wi-Fi on during sleep" according to Google's François Beaufort. The idea is that while in a low-power state, the laptop can still check for incoming notifications or messages or speed up the connection process for known Wi-Fi networks. That's just the start, however.
The Lucid Sleep design document highlights other potential uses, many of which sound similar to the Connected Standby features Microsoft implemented in its Windows operating system. Here are some potential tasks Google is considering with its Lucid Sleep project, which coordinate tasks between the platform kernel, hardware and browser:
- Associating with a known WiFi access point that has just come into range
- Updating user data in response to a received push message
- Synchronizing with app servers at the request of an app
- Performing system maintenance like trimming SSDs or checking the battery level
And as a memory refresher, here's how Microsoft defines what Connected Standby can do:
While the system is in connected standby, it can pass through various hardware and software operating modes. For most of the time spent in connected standby, the hardware is in a low-power state and the software is paused or stopped. However, the system intermittently powers up to process an incoming email, alert the user to an incoming Skype call, or perform other app-related background activities.
There are clear similarities between the two efforts, but Microsoft's, of course, is fully implemented. Google is still working on Lucid Sleep and the first feature is limited to a single laptop at the moment.
Pending the necessary hardware, however, Google would be smart to expand Lucid Sleep to all Chromebooks where possible. As Microsoft correctly points out, people are now used to always connected devices such as smartphones and tablets; expecting similar functionality from a laptop is a given as more apps, services and data work with the cloud.