Chrome OS Weekly S1 EP 5: Duo Group Call, GPU Acceleration, Android/Chrome Integration, Virtual Desktop
GPU Acceleration coming to Linux Apps
Gaming has become an important segment of the grand plan that Google has for the titular platform which is Chrome OS. Gaming has become a highly contested market and the mega search giant wants in on the party.
The company introduced Stadia, streaming services specifically dedicated to gaming to compete with juggernauts like Microsoft and Sony.
But, Stadia might not be the only card that Google has up its sleeves. With Linux Beta becoming a norm for all Chrome OS powered devices going forward, this has presented a unique opportunity for Chromebook users who will be happy to learn that GPU acceleration is coming to Linux with support already available for select devices on the beta/dev channel with a stable channel availability set for the Chrome OS 76 update in early August.
I own the Dell Chromebook 13 and up until this day, I haven’t had the chance to try out Linux beta on my Chromebook. Jesse, on the other hand, does own a Google Pixelbook and according to him, he did enable the GPU acceleration flag (#crostini-gpu-support) right after updating his system to the latest dev build (76.0.3807.0). He went on to restart his system in the hopes of trying a steam game or graphics intensive app to no avail. Not a single Linux app would launch. He recognized this lack in Linux app functionality as a critical bug and hopes Google pushes out a patch in the next update. Pending that time, you can watch a video of Kevin at About Chromebooks playing Portal via steam on his Pixel Slate.
The new feature was first noticed by Keith I Myers who tested a feature named “Crostini GPU Support.”
This theoretically means you could run AAA titles via steam as demonstrated in the video above. Mind you, there are a few things you should, in fact, consider before you take this for a test drive. As we mentioned above, Crostini GPU Support is relatively new and definitely a work in progress so expect bugs and unstable performance issues pending the official debut later in August.
In the meantime, you’d be in luck if you own any of the devices below as they are the only ones that support the #crostini-gpu-support at the time of this writing.
- Google Pixelbook (eve)
- Dell Inspiron 14
- Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630
- Acer Chromebook 13
- HP X360 Chromebook 14
Google Working to Better Integrate Android With Chrome
Creating a functional/connected relationship between smartphones and computers has been the tech world’s biggest nuisance.
One can argue that Google has in fact worked out some of the most difficult kinks involved in establishing a sustained relationship between your smartphone and computer: that is in the case of Android and Chrome OS but continuity between both platforms continues to lack as well as seamless synchronization as you can experience on macOS. It is such that
Google isn’t the first company to try to unite its smartphone and computer platforms into one workable system as companies like Apple and Microsoft have been at it for quite a while now with the latter forced to ax its smartphone business due to poor sales and slow adoption, the former, however, is perfectly set up on both platforms.
Google, however, isn’t resting on its laurels if recent reports are to be believed as Chrome Story recently found some code snippets which suggests that the company is planning something big for Android and Chrome OS.
Android does have some level of integration with Chrome OS but to be honest they aren’t as refined as the alternative experience of iOS and macOS or Microsoft attempted with Windows Mobile and Windows.
The spotted code has what appears to be a new set of features meant to further strengthen the bond between Android and Chrome OS as two individual platforms.
These features include:
- Call a number supported
- Share text from Android to any device clipboard supported
- End-to-end encryption supported
- Filter by device capabilities
- Use deviceGuid as preference key
- Add text share to browser
- Use webpush protocol with generated VAPID key
- Use proto instead of JSON
If the report is accurate, some of these features will drastically change how your Chromebook communicates with your Android device.
Take the “Share text from Android to any device clipboard support” for example, You can select some text from your Android phone and send it to your Chromebook’s clipboard then press Ctrl + V, the text you copied on your Android phone, is pasted on your Chromebook.
Furthermore, raking through the code has revealed a potential calling feature coming to Chrome.
How it works is you would register your Android devices from Chrome for Android (provided they are both using the same Gmail account), then any time you clicked a tel: link from desktop, a prompt will appear offering to send that number to your phone. From your phone, you’ll then see a notification containing the sent phone number and a call button.
Group Calls Coming to Google Duo
Google is quite notorious for its app strategy and how they sometimes get rid of popular platforms like Allo and Inbox by Gmail.
Fortunately, though, Duo seems to have quietly amassed a large following prompting the search giant to use it to spearhead in its messaging platform effort.
With Apple’s iMessage and Facetime seemingly dominant in big markets like the United States, Google understands it has to make Duo’s feature set competitive enough to more hearts.
With messaging platforms like Skype already touting features like Group calls, it’s only wise to make the feature available to the majority of users that love the platform.
We first heard of group calls coming to Duo earlier this year and it’s quite a dream come true to see it already available for users across platforms: Android, Chrome OS, iOS and the Web.
Unfortunately, the web client doesn’t support the feature at this time which is quite unfortunate since there are still a majority of Chromebooks that are without Android apps and it’s seemingly unfair that they don’t get to try these services once they become available. Anyway, that’s certainly bound to change with time.
You can opt for the Android app if your Chrome device supports the Play Store and Group calls work perfectly as expected with participants taking up a portion of the screen as they are added.
At the moment, only a maximum of eight participants is supported – which is quite small when compared to Skype’s 50. Creating a new Group call session is as simple as selecting “create group,” selecting the contacts and then initiating the call.
More Details on Virtual Desktops Emerge
Two Chrome OS Weeklies ago, we covered details on the development of Virtual desktops on Chrome OS and quite naturally, it’s progressed to the next level with an expected release sometime in September with the Chrome OS 77 stable update. Initially slated for the Chrome OS 76 stable update,
The video below essentially demos the drag and drop of programs between Workspaces in Chrome OS’ overview mode.