Can a tablet be your only computer? Having used an iPad Pro 12.9 for 18 months, it can; at least for my activities. But even then, working in a tablet UI felt a little limiting. That won’t be the case for Chrome tablets or Chromebooks with detachable displays based on this Chrome Unboxed video of a desktop mode switching function coming with Chrome OS 70.
With this version of Chrome OS, you can see that the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 recognizes when a USB peripheral is added, such as an external display, and intelligently switches from tablet mode to traditional desktop mode.
That means it brings back the full dock and supports resizable windowed apps, instead of one full screen or two split-screen apps. That’s huge from productivity and user experience perspectives.
And while this feature might when work adding a USB keyboard to a small tablet, the real benefit will be seen on larger screened devices as well when the tablet is connected to an external monitor.
In fact, Chrome Unboxed says that instead of simply mirroring the tablet screen to another display with the current version of Chrome OS, version 70 treats the setup as a dual-monitor workspace so that the second monitor is a true extension of the first. So you can move browser tab windows and Android or Linux apps to the second screen instead of viewing them on both displays.
Again, this is a pretty significant development, and a step that Apple hasn’t taken with its iOS tablets, which can only mirror their display on another screen. The idea of using a Chrome tablet as a single, main computing device — at least if it works for all of the tasks that you personally need it to do — becomes much more feasible with this software addition.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Google shows off this still-in-progress feature at its October 9 hardware event: It’s that big of a deal when it comes to being productive with a Chrome OS tablet.