2020 has certainly been a crazy and unusual year– but some traditions still stay the same, like the release of a new version of Raspberry Pi OS just in time for the new year.
Here are some of the significant new features you’ll find on Raspberry Pi OS for 2021:
PulseAudio Sound Server
One of the biggest changes for the new Raspberry Pi OS is a switch to the PulseAudio sound server.
Previously, users have had to deal with Linux-based audio, specifically an audio interface known as ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture). Unfortunately, this audio system has many limitations, for examplethe capacity to handle only one input and one output at a time. Maybe you’ve noticed that if, say, you were playing sound from a YouTube video, you couldn’t produce any other sounds or run any other audio files at the same time.
PulseAudio opens up many more possibilities for audio – it’s software that functions between any audio hardware and all your applications that send and receivesound. PulseAudio makes it possible to mix audio from different applications all at the same time, and makes it easy to manage multiple audio streams cominginand going out.
On the new Raspberry Pi OS, PulseAudio now runs by default. Best of all, if you’ve become habituated to the volume controls and input/output selectors of the earlier version, you won’t even notice much of a change. All the taskbar settings look and work the same – with the exception that you can now add and control different sound streams all once. You’ll see a menu option for “Device Profiles” which will let you choose which inputs and outputs you want to activate for any device that has multiple connections.
In the past, it’s never been easy to connect or configure printers using Raspberry Pi OS. The most readily available tool, the Linux-based CUPS (Common Unix Printing System), though available and free, has never been very user-friendly.
Many third-party tools have been developed to make CUPS easier to use, but there has never been a consistent standard. However, now Raspberry Pi has decided to use one of these tools called system-config-printer, and both system-config-printer and CUPS now come pre-installed on the new Raspberry Pi OS.
With this addition, it’s now easier than ever to use Raspberry Pi as a desktop replacement, as you can now easily connect a printer and use applications such as LibreOffice to easily print any documents you need.
It has taken the Raspberry Pi developer team longer than anticipated, but with Raspberry Pi OS, they have now updated the Chromium browser to version 84.
With this update, it’s now possible to get high-quality video playback for YouTube as well as smooth video streaming forvideo conference platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet. As internet video service will undoubtedly continue to be important for work, school, and play into 2021, this update will hopefully make your Pi an even better tool in the new year!
Accessibility for Those with Visual Challenges
In an effort to make sure Raspberry Pi products will be accessible for those with disabilities, developers are continually addingnewfeatures. For example, earlier in 2020, they added support for the Orca screen reader to help those with visual impairments.
Going in to 2021, developers have made more improvements to Orca support to fix more bugs and enhancetheConfiguration and Appearance settings. Also, with PulseAudio it’s now possible to play screen reading audio through Bluetooth connected speakers.
Get the New Raspberry Pi OS for 2021!
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