Google has long been working on the so-called Projector app for Chrome OS, a tool that’s meant to make life easier for those who need to present their screens on a daily basis — think teachers and students. But it looks like the Projector app could become useful beyond its initial educational scope. We’ve uncovered a completely redesigned experience for the app that supercharges your screen recording experience, and you can already try it for yourself in the Chrome OS Dev channel.
Setup and recording
After activating all three Projector flags under chrome://flags in the Chrome OS Dev channel, the app will show up on your Chromebook following a restart. When you first launch Projector, you’ll get a quick tour explaining how the tool works, what it’s meant for, and what you can do with it.
Once the tutorial is completed or skipped, the Projector home screen greets you with a selection of completed screen recordings (if you have any) and an option to start a new recording. You’ll notice that the app leverages Chrome OS’s built-in screen recorder for the heavy lifting, complete with the usual controls for selecting which parts of the screen to record, if a microphone should be used, and where to save the recording.
The Projector app adds a few more controls, though, and they look completely different from the ones Google initially designed for it about a year ago, no longer sitting in a separate floating toolbar but right inside the taskbar at the bottom. When you hit the doodle icon there, you can instantly start drawing annotations on your screen. To clear the slate, it’s enough to hit the doodle button again. Right now, accessing additional colors for drawings is a bit unintuitive, as you have to right-click the doodle button, but this might be something Google is still working on.
When you’re done, you can simply hit the stop button next to the doodle icon.
Viewing, sharing, and transcripts
Once a recording is finished, it’s uploaded to your Google Drive automatically, and it takes quite some time for post-processing until it’s ready to be viewed inside the Projector app. As soon as processing is finished, you can find a three-dots menu in the bottom right of the video you’ve recorded, complete with options to share, rename, or delete the recording.
While it’s possible to use the menu to create a link to share it with others, the link itself doesn’t work in browsers just yet — you’ll only get a note saying that you can exclusively access the recording inside the Projector app itself. Even when you click the link on a Chromebook and ask Chrome to open it inside the Projector app, you’re greeted by the same error message. However, you can work around that issue by just sharing the video via the Google Drive app or website, where your recordings are also accessible.
As for the transcript, it will show up in a sidebar next to the video inside the Projector app, complete with a search shortcut to find specific keywords from your recording. When you tap a timestamp in the transcript, the video will automatically jump to the corresponding section. Given that Google is simply uploading the video to your Drive and thus pushing it through the same post-processing algorithms it’s also using for YouTube videos, we presume that the underlying mechanism is the same as for YouTube transcripts.
The app’s tour additionally promises that you can record yourself in addition to your screen, with a pictogram suggesting that your webcam feed will show up in the bottom right corner of your recording. However, it doesn’t look like that option is live just yet — just like sharing isn’t fully functional right from the Projector app itself. After all, this is still a work-in-progress, even if it’s already perfectly useable for the most part right now.
The Projector app is functional in Chrome OS Dev channel version 101.0.4951.6. If you want to try it for yourself, head to your system settings and visit the About Chrome OS section where you can switch between release channels under Additional details. Note that the Dev channel is the least stable version and can lead to recurring system crashes. You’ll also lose all of the data stored on your Chromebook when you want to switch back to the stable release, so proceed with caution.
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