Chromebooks could get a lock screen upgrade with Ambient Mode

Android Ambient Mode
(Image credit: Google)

Ambient Mode was unveiled by Google last year, a way to turn phones into smart speakers and smart displays, though it hasn't made it to many handsets as yet. Now it looks as though the feature could be appearing on Chromebooks too.

New Chrome OS code spotted by XDA Developers mentions Ambient Mode by name, so the engineers behind the project are at least playing around with the idea of adding this enhanced functionality to the software.

When you're not doing anything else with your Android phone or tablet, Ambient Mode displays useful information on the lock screen: what the weather's going to do that day, for example, or what's coming up on your Google Calendar schedule.

We're assuming the functionality on Chromebooks would be somewhat similar – see key information at a glance, like details of any upcoming trips, without having to actually unlock the laptop.

More to come

Google hasn't said anything officially about bringing Ambient Mode to Chrome OS, so we don't know when it's going to appear. As with any feature that's undergoing testing, it might never see the light of day at all.

Like a lot of experimental features in Chrome and Chrome OS, if Ambient Mode does graduate to a proper part of the software, it's likely that it'll show up as an optional flag first of all.

Chromebooks can now run Android apps of course, and Chrome OS has regularly borrowed features from Android in the past. This could be another example of Google sharing its best software ideas out between all of the projects that it supports.

We might hear more about Ambient Mode on Chromebooks at the Google IO 2020 event, scheduled to take place from May 12-14. We're also expecting to get our first dump of information about Android 11 at the same show, while the Pixel 4a could be unveiled too.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.