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Chrome OS tablet mode will auto-hide the shelf again (Yay!)

With Chrome OS running on a wider range of device types, it brings a wider range of user interface challenges. One of the biggest of late has to do with the shelf, both on 2-in-1 and tablet devices, and how it can get it in the way of apps when in tablet mode.

The Chromium team recognized this in March, noting this in the bug tracker :

There are multiple competing goals, I’ve listed a couple here:
1. Users get stuck (e.g. shelf auto-hide) vs users want extra real-estate
2. Users want customizations (e.g. side shelf) vs navigation buttons ergonimics[sic] and feature integration
3. Users want easy way to launch features (e.g. app icons) vs limited space and accidental triggers

Since then, dozens of users have chimed in to provide feedback and the team has listened. Here’s the latest update on upcoming changes, currently available in the Chrome OS Canary Channel:

Some findings included bugs where the OS didn’t always respect app’s wishes for getting rid of the shelf (most fixes are in M69 and some are in M68, these should resolve majority of use-cases mentioned here).

In addition, we are going to support “auto-hide” Shelf behavior from clamshell mode in tablet mode.

If you like to live on the edge (*not recommended for general use*) you can switch to Canary channel and see majority of these changes already in. Otherwise, depending on your channel it will either get to your device mid September (Beta) or in October (Stable)

Our hope is that in most cases, you won’t need to do anything and we will get it right for you. However, in rare cases (e.g. if an app does not correctly hide the Shelf), you will be able to long press the Shelf and select “Auto-hide”.
To show the Shelf, just swipe up from the bottom of the screen.

The intended action of long press and selecting “Auto hide” will help alleviate the accidental triggering of hiding the Shelf.

Essentially, the shelf will no longer get in the way when using browser-based or Android apps in tablet mode. And in any case it does, you’ll be able to auto-hide the shelf; a feature that was removed from tablet mode a few releases ago.

This is fantastic news because as we see more detachable Chromebooks and Chrome OS tablets, the improved shelf behavior supports one of the new strengths of the Chrome OS: A secure, speedy and simple experience, regardless of the hardware form factor.


author avatar
Kevin C. Tofel

2 thoughts on “Chrome OS tablet mode will auto-hide the shelf again (Yay!)

  1. Agreed. Nothing else will more immediately discourage mass initiation and adoption of a device and its OS than a challenging, counter-intuitive, inconsistent, and/or buggy user interface. In the case of Chrome OS and melded Android, that not only applies to the app shelf but even more dramatically applies to the app launcher, file manager, and system-wide navigation gestures. That can’t be emphasized or reiterated enough. In the case of the iPod, iPhone, etc., Steve Jobs and his product development teams implicitly understood that. Hopefully Google is starting to learn that, too.

  2. I was very surprised when the auto hide feature was removed. I always use the auto hide feature on my Windows 10 devices and was using the auto-hide feature on the Pixelbook months ago when it was available. I use the Pixelbook in tablet mode quite often, so the auto hide feature came in handy for more screen real-estate. Also currently with not having the auto-hide feature while using some applications in tablet mode, you can’t access what is on the bottom because the bar won’t hide. Can’t wait to get this feature back and can’t be soon enough! 🙂

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