ChromeOS 103’s new features are already becoming popular tools

ChromeOS 103 rolled out a few weeks ago, but this update wasn’t just another security update with a few small tweaks here and there. Instead, it introduced the Chromebook community to some key new features that aren’t just impressive as parlor tricks: They are also very useful. So useful, in fact, that I’ve already incorporated some of these into my workflow on a regular basis.

For me, these are the big 3 new features that are now part of the overall ChromeOS experience Screencast, recent photos and fast pair. Although Fast Pair won’t be officially introduced until a bit later (hopefully the next ChromeOS update), if you want to turn on and use flags, the foundation is laid. I’ll tell you this, if Fast Pair isn’t ready and available when the Pixel Buds Pro ship later this month, I’ll enable those flags to take full advantage. Pairing your accessories quickly is a nice perk, but being able to pair across multiple devices is the cutest part of this new feature.

The 2 awesome new features I’ve already started using

The big features that have already become commonplace for me are screencast and the recent photos section of the phone hub. For the Recent Photos feature, the use case is pretty simple and clear. Users get instant access to the latest photos they’ve been engaged with on their handheld devices. The best part is that it doesn’t just limit you to the camera roll (photos taken with the phone’s camera), but also shows photos from apps you use.

This is interesting on a number of fronts. First, you can very quickly access a photo that may have been sent to you in a messaging app that you want to use quickly in another app or service. For example, while I was writing this article, Gabriel sent me a photo of pork smoking on its carrier in WhatsApp. I saw this right away in my recent photos section of the phone hub and can share it with a group on Discord without having to locate the image.

But more useful is the fact that this functionality also extends to Google Photos, This allows me to take a photo on my Pixel 6 Pro, quickly edit it in Google Photos, and see the edited version in my recent photos to share in a chat, social media, or new post. It’s so, so handy and will be a feature that will have me wondering how I could live without it in the near future.

The second feature I’m absolutely loving is Screencast. We’ve already made a whole video about it because it’s an amazing service that Google has created, but what’s new about ChromeOS 103 is the fact that it’s now available to all ChromeOS users across the board. And let me tell you yYou should use it! Screencast gives you the ability to create a long or short presentation that is insanely useful to the person(s) on the receiving end.

With tools for on-screen annotation, full (automatic) transcription that’s searchable, and a built-in PIP webcam overlay, Screencast makes guiding and sharing complex ideas a breeze. Everything is synced to your Google account and can also be shared and edited like a Google Doc. It’s an amazing tool that I’ve only used once since it arrived but will 100% use it regularly whenever any remote explanation or guidance is needed. It really is a brilliant tool.

And for an operating system that gets a new update every 4 weeks, these are some valuable new features available to us as Chromebook users. With the faster 4-week turnaround time for new versions of ChromeOS now a regularity, I figured we’d ditch feature-rich updates and trade them in for small tweaks every time a new version arrives. So far, that just hasn’t been the case and the ChromeOS team is simply smashing it with useful new features to match some of the cutest Chromebooks we’ve ever launched. It makes me excited for what’s next and even more excited that we won’t have to wait too long for it.