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Chrome OS 2021 is Switching to a 4-Week Update Cycle in 2021

Longtime users know that the Chrome OS update cycle is 2 weeks long. You get small upgrades every 2 weeks while major updates (milestones) rollout every 6 weeks. Sometimes that happens even more frequently. However, that’s about to change in 2021.

Google has confirmed that the 2021 Chrome OS update schedule will extend to 4 weeks long. The update schedule will be changed with the launch of Chrome OS 94 on October 14th, 2021. 6 weeks later, Chrome OS 96 will be released, skipping Chrome OS 95. This is to bridge the gap between OS 94 and 96.

Chrome OS 2021 Update Cycle is Now 4 Weeks Long

This was first announced in March 2021 by Google. In June of 2021, the company detailed plans for the 4 week release schedule.

The company focused on the key pillars of Chrome OS with this update schedule including security, stability, speed, and simplicity. The 4 week cycle will officially be implemented in Q4 of 2021. The idea is t o hold back major milestone updates while giving administrators greater control over update management.

Chrome OS Update for Enterprise and Education

The Chrome OS update cycle is also being changed for Enterprise and Education users. They will get ‘milestone’ updates after every six months. Google has made this change specifically for all the administrators and managers who rely on Chromebooks.

With this move, Google has effectively chosen a middle ground for update rollouts. They’ve both elongated the updated cycle for small upgrades, and shortened it for major upgrades. This has been a long time coming since Google has been thinking of shorten update cycles for faster updates.

Extended Stable Option

A new addition to the update settings in Chrome OS will be the “Extended Stable Option”. This will be available to Chromium embedders and enterprise administrators. This will allow for milestone updates to be pushed to every 8 weeks instead of 6 weeks. This will give them additional time to manage updates

Security updates however, will still continue to be rolled out every 2 weeks.

The Chrome OS 2021 Update Schedule is the Same Across All Devices

Unlike Android, which is customizable across all devices and has so many variants, Chrome OS isn’t. It’s not customizable and there’s no variance in software, so you’ll find the same thing on any Chromebook. A Samsung Chromebook, and a Pixelbook will be the same when it comes to software.

That’s why unlike Android updates on various different smartphone models, Google Chrome OS updates are consistent. They don’t have to be optimized for every single Chromebook variant before they’re rolled out.

This is great for privacy and security, of course, since it’s rolled out immediately to all Chrome OS users. It’s also universally great for all users since they get access to new features and optimizations and tweaks immediately.  

Other Chrome OS 2021 Updates

Besides the update schedule, there is a lot to look forward to from Chrome OS in 2021.

Phone Hub

While not a complete alternative to Apple’s AirDrop, phone hub will allow Android phones to beam photos to your Chromebook. Operating over Wi-Fi , any of your photos can be beamed to your Chromebook. You won’t have to wait for photos to sync up over Google Drive or Google Photos.

Material You

Along with Android 12 this year, Chrome OS will be getting a few interface overhauls. Material You is an update to Google’s Material Design language. This adjusts fonts and colors based on lock screen colors and your wallpaper.

Notification Badges

Notification badges have been a feature on smartphones for years now. However, it’s now confirmed that it’ll be coming to Chrome OS too. With this, Google is one step closer to integrating Android and Chrome OS.  

Menu Options

Web apps will now grant in-app access to users from external menus. This mirrors desktop class OS like Windows and Mac which allow for an external menu to access in-app features. This is another step for Chrome OS towards behaving like desktop class systems.

Improved File System Access API

Chrome OS 2021 will continue to deliver operations similar to desktop class systems. Web apps will now feature better access to the Chrome OS file system. Hence, the interaction between web apps and locally stored files will be more seamless.

SparkPlug

Chrome OS is going to receive better JavaScript rendering performance in 2021. Along with that, the Sparkplug engine will speed up JavaScript compiling as well. This is essential to faster performance on Chromebooks since they depend on compiling JavaScript code from websites before rendering. While you don’t notice that happening, faster compiling speed will result in a marked difference in performance.  

Chrome OS will be bringing lots of features to its users in 2021 as it morphs into a more integrated system. With the regular update cycle, these updates will get to us quicker and faster than before.  

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