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Big Revolution - Unpolished Chrome

Welcome to Thursday's newsletter, coming to you from a train racing across the North of England as I
May 16 · Issue #421 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Thursday’s newsletter, coming to you from a train racing across the North of England as I make my way to to the excellent Thinking Digital conference in Newcastle (well, Gateshead, if you’re being picky).
— Martin from Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • Donald Trump wants conservatives to report ‘censorship’ of their views on social media to the White House. This feels more like a re-election campaign data-gathering project than anything else, but if so, it blurs the lines between the White House and the Trump campaign.
  • Google is working on tech to translate spoken conversations using only audio. The new ‘Translatotron’ technique doesn’t need to convert the audio to text at all. The babelfish lives!
The big thought
She won't be booting Windows on that Chromebook any time soon. Credit: Andrew Neel on Unsplash
The Chrome that will forever remain unpolished
R.I.P. the dream of running Windows on Chromebooks. It seems an internal Google project to allow Chromebooks to also run Windows has run out of steam.
This is a real shame. As compelling as Chromebooks are for most tasks, there are a handful of popular use cases they’re useless at. You probably don’t want to edit videos in a web app, for example. If Google could say ‘these higher-spec Chromebooks also let you run Windows,’ it would help sell them as do-it-all devices.
Of course, the sensible counterargument to this would be ‘if you need to do things ChromeOS can’t do, why not just buy a Windows machine?’ And the latest Chromebooks can dual-boot with Linux, giving users access to things like desktop video editing software and other more specialist software applications.
But then, ‘you can dual-boot with Linux’ would leave the average consumer cold. ‘What does that mean? What’s Linux?,’ they’d say.
So the idea of the Chromebook as a streamlined productivity machine with the ability to run more powerful apps when you need it is likely to remain nothing more than unfulfilled potential for most users.
I was once tempted to make my main machine a Google Pixelbook (the premium Chromebooks Google puts out every couple of years) but not without Windows dual-booting. That certainly won’t be happening now. Google won’t care — it’ll still sell Chromebooks by the barrel load to schools and certain businesses.
But still, I can’t help thinking that there’s a real missed opportunity here.
One big read
Behind Twitter’s Plan To Get People To Stop Yelling At One Another Behind Twitter’s Plan To Get People To Stop Yelling At One Another
Following on from my review of Twitter’s prototype ‘Twttr’ app in this newsletter on Monday, here’s a good read on Twitter’s efforts to make conversations easier to follow, hopefully reducing rage in the process.
One big tweet
Don’t do this to tech journalists. It’s very silly.
Josh Constine
Wow. A startup’s PR called me unsolicited, then threatened that “you’ll remember their name when they become a big ‘disrupor’” when I said I wasn’t interested.
5:41 PM - 15 May 2019
That’s all for today...
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