Google’s new Chrome OS update turns Chromebooks into scanners


Google is struggling to break into the smartphone market with its Pixel line. The same can’t be said for the company’s software, as Android has dominated the mobile ecosystem for years. Similarly, Google’s Chrome OS has given Apple’s macOS a hard time. In fact, Google’s Chrome OS grew significantly throughout 2020 and eventually overtook Apple’s OS. Chromebooks are here to stay, and on Tuesday Google rolled out Chromium OS 96 – a huge new update that adds several exciting new features to laptops. We’ll dive into everything Google has added below.

Chromebooks become scanners with a new update

Google added a new scan mode to the Camera app in a recent update for Chromebooks. Image source: Google

First, your Chromebook now serves as a scanner. In the blog post, Google points out that your computer’s camera can be used for more than just video calls. Going forward, as long as your Chromebook has a front or back camera, you can use it to share physical documents and photos. You can turn them into PDF or JPEG files after scanning them.

If you want to scan something, the first step is to open the Camera app on your Chromebook. Select Scan mode, which you will see at the bottom of the screen. When you hold the document you want to scan in front of the camera, it will automatically detect the edges. Once the document is scanned, you can easily share it via Gmail, social media, or nearby devices with Nearby Sharing.

Other new features for cameras on Chromebooks

If you spend all day in virtual meetings, chances are you have an external camera. Most Chromebooks’ cameras are fine for casual video chatting, but not always for work. Google knows this, which is why the latest update adds another new camera feature to Chromebooks.

Google has added a Pan-Tilt-Zoom feature that will give you more control over what your external camera sees. You can crop and tilt your camera view to suit your setup. Maybe you don’t want anyone to see the messy room to your right, or your sleeping dog. You can use the feature to make sure you’re in the center of the shot no matter where you’re sitting.

Here’s how to use Pan-Tilt-Zoom with an external camera on a Chromebook:

With your external camera plugged in and set up, open the Camera app to adjust the angle you want to capture. Your selections will be automatically saved. So when you switch from a Google Meet work call to a video with your new pup, your camera angle preferences will remain the same.

Google has also listed a bunch of other features it recommends Chromebook users try:

  • Video mode. If you want to send a quick message to a loved one on their birthday, record a video by clicking on the “Video” mode.
  • Self-timer. You don’t need to be within reach of your laptop to take a photo. Set the timer and you can take a few steps back to get the perfect shot.
  • QR Code. In addition to scanning new documents, you can also use the “Scan” option to scan QR codes. It works like document scanning, so use your front or back camera to scan a QR code.
  • Save for later. All your photos and videos will be automatically saved in the “Camera” folder of your Files app for easy access later.

Additionally, Google announced that Chromebook users will be able to create GIFs on the Camera app starting next year. Record a five-second video of whatever your heart desires, and the Camera app will automatically turn it into a GIF. You can then share it widely.


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