Hands on with Google’s new 2024 Chromebook Plus

Everyone in tech is really busy trying to keep up with the Artificial Intelligence hellscape by adding all sorts of AI features to anything they can get their hands on. Google is no exception of course, and today we get to see some interesting new “AI” supported features coming to Chromebook Plusses to be released this year. The new software update will also be available on May 28th, 2024.

The “Help Me Write” feature is a big one that will be fully integrated with the Chrome operating system and accessible from any text field. This basically allows Google’s Gemini AI to edit and suggest changes to any content in any text field in any web-based app or form. That could be extremely useful as you could easily look up alternatives for headlines or paragraph text without having to copy/paste content into another app or website in order to use other generative text models.

The sidebar for notifications and tasks will have some helpful new features as well including a “focus” mode for hiding notifications. This is really a “do not disturb” mode and has nothing to do with focusing a camera lens to make the image sharper. 

Another new feature of Chromebook Plus devices is going to be the hands-free operation mode. There will basically be a program that uses the camera and microphone to recognize words and gestures for navigating the operating system. You can set mouse movements and click functions to head movements and facial gestures. So for example, moving the mouse upwards can be assigned to tilting your head upwards. This is more of an accessibility feature as it makes the computer possible to use for people with mobility problems. I don’t think it makes things easier to use for people with full use of their hands though. This nicely uses a very lightweight machine learning model that is run directly on the computer with no cloud interaction necessary.


Another big feature will be generative imaging.  The new built-in photo editor will have some excellent selection tools that can separate recognized objects from an image, move them and then fill in the background with more imagery of what it thinks would probably be there. You’ve also got text-to-image prompts for generating graphics out of the machine learning model.  Of course, you’ll be able to make desktop background art with these generative image models as well.

The new Chromebook Plus operating system will also have some new gaming features in a gaming dashboard. Note that this is nowhere close to the kind of gaming you’d get on a gaming PC. Really we’re talking about Android Games and web browser games, but you can also use this with cloud based game streaming like the Cloud Gaming feature you can get from the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription. Google doesn’t have their own cloud-based game streaming system anymore.

The Android game feature has an interesting work around for enabling Android games on laptops so that you can use the keyboard and mouse for interaction instead of the touch screens that Android games were designed for. You can assign keys to specific parts of the screen.  So you can basically position a keyboard key over each touch-screen control to assign those keys to those on-screen buttons. Screen shot and game recording features are also coming to the gaming dashboard.

      About 10 new Chromebooks were announced today, too. The regular Chromebooks lack the new AI features, but all will cost less than $300. The Chromebook Plus devices will cost $349 and up while the most high-end models will be around $700.  

Watch out for AI hallucinations

It should be noted that these AI model generations should never be taken as facts. Machine learning generative models only produce content based on patterns recognized from their training data. So you should be especially critical of the “write for me” capabilities as a lot of that is most likely going to be wrong. Here’s a good example of Google’s AI recommending that humans eat rocks:

Still a lot of these machine learning models will be very useful. Just be sure to use natural intelligence to figure out what’s good and what isn’t. 



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