Google Inc. (GOOG:US) is upgrading Chromebook laptops with faster speeds and a new user interface that’s more reminiscent of traditional personal computers as the company steps up its efforts to take on Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) and Microsoft Corp.
The laptops made by Samsung Electronics Co. will let users navigate Web-based applications more easily by providing tools for accessing Gmail or other software outside the browser, said Sundar Pichai, a senior vice president at Mountain View, California-based Google. The devices, which use faster Intel Corp. chips, are about three times as quick as the first generation of Chromebooks, he said.
“It’s a journey for us, but we’re committed to it for the long run,” Pichai said. “It’s a big jump forward.”
Google, already competing in the market for smartphones with its Android software, is trying to woo consumers and businesses with Web-centric laptops while challenging Microsoft (MSFT:US) and Apple. Google announced Chrome OS software in 2009 and manufacturers that include Acer Inc. (2353) began offering the computers last June.
The latest Chromebooks include a bar across the bottom of the screen that lets users access Web applications, similar to what’s available on Mac or Windows machines. Meanwhile, in the next several weeks, Google’s document service will be available for editing even when users aren’t connected to the Internet.
Other improvements include built-in features for viewing Microsoft Office software, such as Word and Excel files. Users will also be able to easily access remote Windows computers, Pichai said.
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