Chrome OS beta has a new Launcher—and it looks suspiciously like Google Now

google now chrome
Credit: François Beaufort/Google+

Anyone who has used Android can attest to the usefulness of Google Now: After all, it conveniently presents useful bits of timely information—weather, traffic, news headlines, and so on—in a clear, easy-to-parse manner. Chrome OS users will soon be able to join the fun, though: According to Google’s François Beaufort, Google Now functionality will make its way into the upcoming Chrome Launcher 2.0.

“This new launcher is the best way to start new activities on Chrome OS, like performing a Google search or launching apps,” Beaufort wrote in a post on Google+. “Search has been enhanced to help you find what you are looking for faster, apps you most often use right have been put at your fingertips, and the power of Google Now has been brought to your Chromebook.”

The new Launcher 2.0 hits Chrome OS Beta Channel builds this coming week, though it’s still unclear when it will come to the “stable” builds intended for broader consumption (my guess: “when it’s ready”). 

Anyone who uses Chrome OS can join the Beta Channel, which allows you get at new Chrome OS features before they become available to everyone and provide feedback to Google. And it’s easy to do: Click your account picture when logged in as the “owner,” go to Settings > About Chrome OS, click More info, then click Change channel... to make the switch. Switching back to the “stable” channel will require you to wipe your machine, so be aware of this gotcha before you switch channels.

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