Chrome OS Receives Extreme Makeover With Material Design And Google Now Support

Late last week, and to little fanfare, Google began inviting people to opt into the beta channel for ChromeOS to help the company "shape the future" of the OS. Some betas can be riskier than others, but Google says that opting into this one is just a "little risk", one that will pay off handsomely for those who crave new features.

New in this version is Chrome Launcher 2.0, which gives you quick access to a number of common features, including the apps you use most often (examples are Hangouts, Calculator, and Files).

Beta ChromeOS 01

Some apps have also received a fresh coat of paint, such as the file manager, seen below. Google notes that this is just the start, so there will be more updates rolling out to the beta OS as time goes on.

Beta ChromeOS 02

Other key features available in this beta include the ability to extract passworded Zip archives (I am a little surprised it took this long), as well as a perk for travelers: ChromeOS will now automatically detect your new timezone, and then update the time and date accordingly.

Once you're moved over to the beta, you can submit feedback by hitting Alt + Shift + i. And, if you happen to experience bugs with the beta, you can revert back to the stable version pretty easily - but the caveat is that it will delete all local data, so you'd want to make sure that all of what you need is backed up, or stored in the cloud.