According to an announcement made by Google on Friday, the most recent update for Chromebooks now includes a feature that notifies users if the USB-C cable they are using has limited functionality. This new Chromebook feature seems like it could be a useful tool to help troubleshoot issues, as USB-C cables can have widely varying capabilities, offering things like different charging and data transfer speeds on a cable-by-cable basis, so it is important to note that these capabilities can vary widely.
Google says in a blog post that “eligible Chromebooks will notify you” if the USB-C cable you’re using won’t support displays or isn’t performing ideally for your laptop. This information is provided by the Chromebook. “You’ll also get a notification if the cable you’re using does not support the high performance USB4 / Thunderbolt 3 standards that your Chromebook does,” it says. “This is because your Chromebook supports both of these standards.” According to the blog, the new feature will initially be available on Chromebooks with 11th or 12th Generation Intel Core CPUs that support Thunderbolt or USB4. The blog also states that “more devices will be coming.”
Benson Leung, a Google employee, has been making waves with his tests and reviews of USB-C cables, including one that ruined his Chromebook Pixel. As a result of these tests and reviews, Google is acutely aware of some of the challenges that USB-C cables present. This new notification from Google is a welcome addition to its Chromebooks, and it should come as no surprise that we have Benson and the rest of the team to thank for that. Although the situation has significantly improved since then, it is still sometimes difficult to determine precisely which USB-C cable performs which function.
The most recent update also comes with a few additional features. Google is currently working on an update to the split-screen magnifier feature that will allow users to resize the magnified portion of the screen. This will give users the option to view a greater or lesser portion of the area that is being zoomed in on. The following GIF, courtesy of Google, demonstrates how that operates: