ChromeOS 103 was released a few weeks ago, but this update wasn’t just another security update with a few minor tweaks here and there. Instead, it introduced the Chromebook community to a few major new features that aren’t just parlor tricks: they are also very useful. So useful, in fact, that I’ve incorporated several of them into my workflow regularly.

3 big new features are now part of the overall ChromeOS experience for me Screencast, Recent Photos and Quick Couple. Although Fast Pair won’t be officially available until a little later (hopefully the next ChromeOS update), the basics are ready if you want to turn on the flags and use them. Let me tell you this: if Fast Pair isn’t ready and the Pixel Buds Pro ship later this month, I’ll be turning on those flags to take full advantage of it. Pairing your accessories on the fly is a nice perk, but keeping them paired between devices is the coolest part of this new feature.

2 fantastic new features that I’ve already started using

The big features that have become routine for me to use are Screencast and Phone Hub’s Recent Photos section. The use case for the Recent Photos feature is pretty simple and clear, giving users instant access to the latest photos they’re working on on their handheld devices. The best thing about it is that it doesn’t just limit you to your camera roll (photos taken with the phone’s camera), it also shows photos from the apps you use.

This is interesting in several ways. First, it gives you very quick access to a photo sent to you in a messaging app that you want to use quickly in another app or service. For example, as I was writing this post, Gabriel sent me a photo on WhatsApp of him pulling a pork chop at Traeger. I saw it right away in the Phone Hub’s My Recent Photos section, and I can snap it to a group on Discord without having to find the photo.

But what’s even more useful is that this functionality also extends to Google Photos, lets me take a photo on my Pixel 6 Pro, quickly edit it in Google Photos, and view the edited version in My Recent Photos to share in chat, social media, or a new post. It’s so convenient and a feature that I’ll be wondering how I ever lived without it for the foreseeable future.

The second feature I’ve learned to absolutely love is Screencast. We have already made a full video about it because it is an amazing service created by Google, but the news about ChromeOS 103 is that it is now available for all ChromeOS users. I will tell you, yyou should use it! Screencast allows you to create a long or short presentation that is incredibly useful to the person(s) receiving it.

With tools for on-screen annotations, searchable full (automatic) transcription, and an embedded PIP webcam overlay, Screencast makes teaching and sharing complex ideas a snap. All of this syncs with your Google account and can be shared and edited as a Google Doc. It’s an amazing tool that I’ve only needed once since it arrived, but 100% will be using it regularly anytime I need a remote explanation or guidance. This is a really brilliant tool.

And for an OS that gets a new update every 4 weeks, these are some valuable new features available to us as Chromebook users. Since the 4-week faster turnaround on new versions of ChromeOS has become a regularity, I thought we’d hold off on feature-packed updates and replace them with small tweaks as each new version arrives. It wasn’t until now, and the ChromeOS team is just killing it with useful new features. some of the cutest Chromebooks we’ve seen on the market. It makes me excited for what’s next, and even more excited that we don’t have long to wait.

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