New Google Chromebook Plus Features

Google recently announced the addition of new features to their Chromebook Plus devices, a tier that was introduced a few months ago. In my latest video, I take these new features out for a spin and demo them.

Many existing Chromebooks meet the minimum specifications for this “Plus” category and have been upgraded with additional capabilities not available on lower-end models. If you are curious whether your device qualifies, a previous video from October provides detailed information. So far the “Plus” designation has not resulted in a price premium for midrange Chromebooks – pricing is still very competitive vs. comparable Windows laptops.

Among the new features is the Gemini Advanced subscription service, offered for free for one year to those purchasing a new Chromebook Plus. Typically priced at $20 per month, this subscription includes access to an advanced chatbot, which is competitive with ChatGPT for data analysis and large file summarization. Gemini Advanced features will also be available in Google Workspace apps. Additionally, the subscription provides two terabytes of Google Cloud Storage, benefiting users across all devices linked to their Google account.

One of the standout features is the “Help Me Write” tool that is now integrated into the OS. This AI-powered assistant can rewrite text fields on any website, offering improvements for SEO or adding playful elements like emojis.

The Magic Photo Editor has also been enhanced, borrowing features from Google’s Pixel phones. Users can now remove background elements or repositioning subjects within a photo and have the effected areas rendered with generative AI. While this feature sometimes struggles with complex environments, it generally performs well in simpler scenarios.

Another addition is the live caption feature, previously seen on Pixel devices. This tool transcribes audio in real-time from any source running through the Chromebook’s audio system, though it currently only supports English. It proves useful for capturing spoken content across different applications.

For gamers, the new Game Dashboard allows for keyboard mapping of touchscreen controls across all Chromebooks. This feature, however, does not support game controllers. Additionally, Chromebook Plus users can now record gameplay sessions or create GIFs from screen captures, making it easier to share content online.

The update also introduces dynamic AI-generated backgrounds and wallpapers. While the options are somewhat limited, they provide unique, visually appealing customization for the device.

The overall approach to these updates reflects Google’s strategy to integrate subtle, useful AI features into the operating system. More enhancements are expected for the Chromebook Plus tier, promising continual improvement for Chromebook Plus users.