Google this morning launched a new category of Chromebooks called Chromebooks Plus. The laptops are productivity-focused devices with minimum spec requirements, including a full HD screen, 1080p camera and higher processing power than entry-level devices. The initial set of Chromebook Plus devices — made by Acer, Asus, HP and Lenovo — start from $399.
The company is also integrating AI-powered features from Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Express to Chromebook Plus devices (more on that later). Google is probably setting minimum hardware requirements for this new category of devices so that they can smoothly run productivity software and AI-powered features. Here is the full list of minimum hardware specifications:
- CPU: Intel Core i3 12th Gen or above, or AMD Ryzen 3 7000 series or above
- RAM: 8GB+
- Storage: 128GB+
- Webcam: 1080p+ with Temporal Noise Reduction
- Display: Full HD IPS or better display
Chromebook Plus devices are getting some useful video conferencing features. The system will have a dedicated control panel on the bottom, which will let you quickly mute/unmute the mic and turn on/turn off the camera. If you expand the menu, by clicking on it, you will see some AI-powered features such as improved lighting, noise cancelation, background blur and live captions.
The company is also enabling automatic file sync for Google Drive, so you can access your file easily without an internet connection later.
Google Photos will bring a bunch of updates too, including Magic Eraser (a feature borrowed from Android), which removes unwanted objects from images, along with HDR and portrait blur. The app will also have the ability to automatically create movies based on a selection of photos and videos.
Some of these features could possibly be compatible with other Chromebooks as well, but Google said that at the moment they will remain exclusive to the Plus category of devices.
Google is also partnering with companies like Adobe and LumaTouch to bring software like Photoshop, Adobe Express and LumaFusion. Last week, Adobe announced that it is launching Photoshop on the web with Firefly-powered AI features for paid users. Users purchasing a new Chromebook Plus will get three months of Photoshop and Express subscription for free.
Just like the other categories, all new Chromebook Plus devices will get a three-month subscription to Nvidia’s GeForce NOW Priority tier cloud gaming service.
Upcoming AI-powered features
Google has been infusing AI-powered features steadily across its products, and the new Chromebook Plus will get some of these features soon. The company said it will introduce a new writing assistant that could work across websites — ranging from social networks to YouTube.
Plus, Google will introduce the ability to create AI-generated wallpapers based on a prompt. The search giant announced a similar feature for Android in May at its Google IO developer conference.
Earlier this month, Google announced that it will issue 10 years of software updates to Chromebooks based on their platform release date. Google is extending the offer to older Chromebooks that fit the Chromebook Plus profile.
To start, Asus, Acer, HP and Lenovo are launching eight devices with a starting price point of $399. These devices are either in a clamshell or a detachable two-in-one form factor. They go on sale October 8. Chromebook Plus devices will be available to order for folks in Europe and Canada the following day.