The demand and sales numbers for Chromebooks have skyrocketed in the past few months, in no small part due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced both work and school to take place at home and online. Traditionally, however, Chromebooks haven’t exactly been the most powerful computers in the market, though that is thankfully changing as time goes by. That said, some Chromebooks may still not be up to snuff, especially when heavy apps like Google Meet are used, a situation that Google is no promising to address in the latest round of Chrome OS updates.
It is actually a bit ironic that a platform designed by Google would have problems using a new service also designed by Google. Of course, video conferencing is always heavy not just on Internet bandwidth but also on hardware resources, especially when you’re using other apps like Google Docs or other productivity software at the same time. Again, ironic given what Chromebooks were designed for in the first place.
Thankfully, Google isn’t taking that situation sitting down and has been improving things on the Chrome OS side to make using Meet while multitasking less of a harrowing experience. The performance improvements will allow users to switch to the more resource-intensive Grid View, for example. Chrome OS will also ensure that unnecessary audio and video processing won’t happen in the background, potentially slowing down the Chromebook.
Resource usage while running Google Meet isn’t a fixed number so Chrome OS has to be more intelligent when adjusting dynamically to the demands of the situation. Meet’s video resolution, for example, will be temporarily downgraded when participants share their screen to improve performance. It will also turn off some video feeds if there’s network congestion at home due to many people using the connection at the same time.
Google says that these improvements won’t benefit just Google Meet. They have worked with Zoom, its biggest rival in that space, to ensure that Zoom users on Chromebooks won’t feel like they’re being left out for not using Google Meet.