Chromebooks get these handy new features as Chrome OS 85 arrives

Google's Chrome OS 85 brings easier Wi-Fi password management for shared devices, new ways to search Settings, and a mic slider for users to control the volume of their voice on a video chat.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Google has released Chrome OS version 85 and has highlighted several new features aimed at making Chromebooks easier to use for everyone at home. 

A new Wi-Fi Sync feature caters to people who often switch between different Chromebooks or share notebooks and then find they need to re-enter the fiddly password found on the back of their home router. 

With Wi-Fi Sync, Wi-Fi passwords become part of the user profile's keychain and stays there regardless of the Chromebook that's being used.

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Nearby Share, Google's Apple AirDrop-like file sharing feature, came to Android earlier this month and will soon work on Chromebooks too. 

Chrome OS 85 reworks Settings with an easier way to search for settings, like Wi-Fi networks. Google is aiming for the Chromebook Launcher to be an "everything button", not unlike Apple's Spotlight, that helps users find and launch apps, local files, Drive, Settings, and Google Search. The ability to use the Launcher to search through Settings will arrive "soon", according to Google.

The update also has some features for people still working from home as the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic. A new mic slider in Audio settings allows users to control the volume of their voice on video chats, helping others to hear them better. This can be accessed from the volume icon in Quick Settings.

Another feature to support people who can't visit family and friends in person yet are improvements to video recording in the Camera app on Chromebooks. Users can now pause and resume video recording and take a still picture while recording. The videos are saved in MP4 format for easy sharing. Previously, videos were saved in a different format and required using another app to convert to MP4. 

Chrome OS 84, released in July, introduced a new Explore app aimed at helping new Chromebook users find the most useful features when discovering the device and OS, such as how to manage files and set up a printer.

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