In many areas, Google’s Chrome OS platform is starting to feel like a desktop version of Android. He increasingly looks like Android, behaves like Android and even runs Android apps. But the operating system is fundamentally different in concept and under the bonnet and functions completely different in a number of ways.
One is how to handle the two upgrades. Software updates on Chrome OS are much simpler, more frequent and more consistent than you see with Android – and that is a hefty understatement – and as a user, you have much more insight into where you stand and what is happening. Whether you already use Chrome OS or are planning to do so, here are six things to know about updates.
Updates are performed automatically in the background, without delays or notifications
The Google software automatically updates itself in the background while you use your Chromebook. The system does not bother you with restarts or keeps you waiting while the new settings are applied. The only time this happens is the first time you boot and log in to a new Chrome OS device.
If a new update has been downloaded that is ready to be applied, you will see an arrow in the lower right corner near the clock. If you click on this, the system gives the option to apply the update immediately. But if you don’t want to do that, it will be applied automatically the next time you start the device.
You can force a Chromebook to look for updates through the Help screen ( chrome://help), but unless you’re impatient, want something new, or there’s a particularly important security update, there’s really no reason to do this. The updates always pop up and install themselves fairly smoothly.
A Chrome OS update is rolled out every two to three weeks, regardless of the device you have
Updates come out several times a month and because they are rolled out to devices from Google, they come out more or less at the same time for all Chromebooks. Manufacturers cannot modify the OS in the same way as Android, so there is no difference between software between the devices and manufacturers do not have to be involved in the update process.
According to the official schedule, a stable new version of Chrome OS is released every two weeks, with minor improvements and update with more important changes every six weeks. Sometimes upgrades appear even more often than that.
You can choose an update schedule to be closer to the fire and get early access to new features
Just like browser Chrome, Chrome OS has three different channels. Stable has been fully tested and is the stable, polished version that is suitable for most users. Beta is updated about weekly and with that, users see features about a month earlier than other Chrome OS users. The Developer channel often receives an update several times a week and contains the newest of the newest that has just been developed and therefore can also have some sharp edges or is even crash sensitive.
If you want to try a new channel, type chrome://helpin a tab on your Chromebook in the address bar. Click on Detailed build data on then under Channel on Change channel. You can choose from Stable, Beta or Developer – unstable. Select the option you want and follow the steps that Chrome OS presents you.
Keep in mind that of course, everything is not Stable – as the name implies – makes your system less stable because it uses software that is still being tested and developed instead of being a final release version. The Developer channel even gives a warning that it contains bugs and should only be used by advanced users who are interested in what is being worked on and who can handle a problem here and there.
You can always see what’s new about Chrome OS
Even though Google does not report much in the system itself about the incoming upgrades, the OS-maker publishes a lot of detailed information that is available if you are curious. Perhaps the easiest way is to follow the official blog Chrome Releases. Look for the posts for the OS channel that you use (for example, ” Stable Channel Update for Chrome OS ” if you use Stable) and see what changes with a new update.
Chrome OS updates will not appear forever
Even with Chrome OS, support comes to an end one day, but in contrast to various other platforms, it takes quite a while. From the moment the chipset appears there is a minimum duration of 78 months (six and a half years) which means that usually new devices are supported for at least another five years from their first sales date.
In some cases, even longer. We even have a slightly different old ARM Chromebook without an Android subsystem from October 2012 on the editorial board and it was just updated yesterday (Wednesday, October 3, 2018) to version 69 (Stable in September 2018), while the official EOL date on July 2018. Which brings us to the last point:
You can now already assess how long your Chrome OS device will receive updates
Google maintains this database with end-of-life data in which you can see how long your device is officially supported. This is updated fairly quickly as new devices come out so that you can see at least how long you can count on support before purchasing.
Incidentally, this is the minimum support time, sometimes the end date is scaled up later over the years. Google promises that it will never advance the date, which means that you suddenly have less support than you originally expected.