This week Google released its latest Chrome OS 102 update and inside is a neat new feature that will alert users if they’re using bad or incompatible USB-C cables. And while that sounds like a small change, it’s more useful than you probably think.
These days USB-C cables come in different lengths, not to mention different specs for features, including displaying video, data transfer speeds, or charging rates. For example, there are USB-C PD (Power Delivery) cables, and features like USB4 and Thunderbolt require a cable to meet a particular specification.
If you bought a cheap random USB-C cable off of Amazon, eBay, or a nearby gas station, there’s a good chance it will be incompatible with some of your Chromebook’s features.
For now, this handy software change will only work with newer Chromebooks running Intel’s 11th or 12th Gen CPUs, but it sounds like more devices will get it later down the road.
In a blog post today, Google confirmed the feature by saying, “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.” For example, you’ll get a notification” if the cable you’re using doesn’t support the high-performance USB4 / Thunderbolt 3 standards that your Chromebook does.”
If a user tries to connect a USB-C cable and use a Chromebook on an external display, but the cable doesn’t support that feature, you’ll get a notification similar to the one shown above. That way, owners won’t have to troubleshoot or wonder why things aren’t working, and they’ll know to get a new cable.
Google recently added a similar feature to Android Auto, where it can alert users to faulty cables and other problems.