Chrome OS 80 improves tablet mode, adds APK sideloading, and updates Linux environmen
Chrome OS updates always arrive a little later than Chrome browser updates, but Chrome OS 80 has been cooking in the oven for an especially long period of time — v81 of the browser is due soon. Still, good things come to those who wait, and Chrome OS 80 has a few noteworthy improvements. Beyond all of the changes in version 80 of the browser, Chrome OS 80 includes a significant update for anyone using Linux containers. If you're setting up a Linux environment for the first time on your Chromebook, it will now use Debian 10 'Buster' instead of Debian 9 'Stretch' (Debian releases are named after characters from Pixar's Toy Story films). That means you'll get newer packages by default, but there's no way right now to upgrade an existing container to Debian 10 — you'll have to wipe your Linux environment and set it up again after updating to Chrome OS 80.
Chrome OS 80 also features the updated tab strip interface for tablets that arrived on the Chrome OS beta channel not too long ago. When in tablet mode, Chromebooks now display a tab button that opens a horizontally-scrolling row of tabs, similar to how the Android version of Chrome already works. It might not be enabled on all devices by default, though. The long-awaited ability to sideload custom APKs (without placing your whole Chromebook in Developer Mode) is also present on Chrome OS 80, but all the catches from when it originally appeared are still around.
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