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Google Chromebook debuts in Canada, featuring work from Canadian developers

Nicole Bogart / Global News

TORONTO – Internet giant Google announced Tuesday that its Chromebook computer is finally available in Canada, the home to some of the product’s key developers.

The laptop comes to Canada more than a year after being released in the U.S. and other countries.

It runs off of Google’s Chrome operating system (OS), instead of a standard computer that runs a Windows or Mac OS, designed for using the web and features the Chrome web browser as the main attraction of the computer.

With 25.5 million Internet users in Canada, nearly 100 per cent of which are online every single day, the idea of a computer designed for web-browsing may entice some consumers – especially those frustrated by a tablet experience due to the lack of keyboard.

Photo courtesy: Google

Though both Chrome and Chrome OS projects are driven primarily from Google’s Mountain View, California headquarters, Google’s Kitchener/Waterloo, Ont. office has one of the biggest teams working on the project.

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Rick Byers, who heads up the Chrome development team in Kitchener, has been leading a team working in the background of Chrome OS.

“We have done work in the system in terms of the guts of the system in terms of how it manages power – for suspending, resuming and not using too much battery. We have a big team here that works on graphics and performance, making sure that you can have animations and that you can scroll really smoothly,” Byers told Global News.

The Kitchener team has also worked on more visible parts of the user interface (UI), including what Byers refers to as “the tray,” located at the bottom right-hand corner of the computer, which displays things like the clock, network status and battery life.

“We are innovating as part of a larger team and Chrome, being an open-sourced project, is a very distributed environment. Really, we all kind of work together closely – so there are all types of different things all over the project that we have been involved with,” said Byers.

Byers credits Google for bringing him back home to Canada. He worked in the U.S. prior to returning to work with Google.

“I’ve always been interested in working on computing platforms and when I graduated from university, I kind of felt that I had to go to the States to do that, to work on platforms that are used by hundreds of millions of people,” said Byers, who attended the University of Waterloo.

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“Now the web is the dominant computing platform and Google is not very hierarchical, so if I want to make the web better – I can do that from here in Waterloo without having to go to the States.”

Another advantage to developers working on Chrome OS in Waterloo is having a large team in Montreal dedicated to working on security features for Chrome.

“The three main pillars of Chrome are simplicity, security and speed – and they are all things Canadians teams are contributing quite a bit to,” said communications and public affairs person at Google’s Toronto office Wendy Bairos.

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