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New Chromebook features show up at Google I/O

Google's Chrome OS operating system gets proximity log-in and access to Android apps.

James Martin/CNET

At the Google I/O keynote in San Francisco, the company showed off new features for Chromebook laptops running the Chrome OS.

Most notably, a phone running the new Android L mobile OS can unlock your Chromebook and even log you into Web applications via L's proximity-sensing abilities. Also, Android app .apk files can now run directly on your Chromebook, controlled by the phone's touch screen. Flipboard was an example demoed on stage.

Finally, Chromebooks can now receive status updates from your phone, again via Android L. Examples presented includes incoming caller ID information and a low-battery warning from your phone, both presented on your Chromebook screen.

James Martin/CNET

Chromebooks are a fast-growing segment of the budget laptop category. Already, according to Google, eight companies make 15 different Chromebook models, and they account for the 10 best-rated laptops on Amazon.

That operating system essentially operates almost entirely within the Chrome Web browser, which looks and feels the same as the Chrome Web browser you may be using right now on your Windows or Mac OS computer.That makes for a familiar experience in some ways, as many of us have already moved large swaths of our lives online, into Web-based tools such as Gmail, Facebook, and Netflix.

Most cost between $200 and $300, but unlike the similarly priced netbooks of old, these systems tend to focus on doing one thing and doing it well -- giving you low-cost access to online tools and services, as long as you buy into the Chromebook argument of a system that lives 90-plus percent of its useful life online, running Web-based in-browser apps and using cloud-based storage.

This is a developing story. Follow CNET's Google I/O live blog and see all of today's Google I/O news.

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