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Your Chromebook now doubles as a smart display

Who needs a Nest Hub?

Published onJanuary 26, 2021

chrome os 88 chromebook smart display
  • Google has released Chrome OS 88 with a screen saver that turns Chromebooks into smart displays.
  • You can get personalized weather, music controls, and your choice of art.
  • The update also lets you sign into websites with your fingerprint or PIN code.

You might not need to buy a device like the Nest Hub Max to put a smart display in your home — at least, not if you have a Chromebook. Google has released a Chrome OS 88 update that turns your Chromebook lock screen into a smart display — with some limitations.

Enable a screen saver (under Personalization) and your Chromebook lock screen can show customized weather, music controls, and other information. Like typical smart displays, you can also set the background to display a personal photo album (from Google Photos). If you’d rather not show your own photos, you can pick from “hundreds” of art gallery images.

Related: The best budget Chromebooks

Your Chromebook will have improvements once you’re past the lock screen, too. Chrome OS 88 adds support for signing into Web Authentication-friendly (aka WebAuthn) websites using either your Chromebook’s fingerprint reader or its PIN code. You can use either method for two factor authentication as well if you’d rather not pull out your phone to verify your sign-ins.

Chrome OS 88 should be available now. Your Chromebook lock screen won’t perfectly mimic a smart display when there’s no video chat or elaborate smart home controls, but you might not mind if you just want to glance at conditions before you go for a walk. Lock screens as a whole tend to be barren — if nothing else, this puts your display to work.