Google testing a full-screen app launcher for Chrome tablets

With the first Chrome tablet arriving later this month, Google is looking to tweak the Chrome OS touch interface to make it more tablet-like. Instead of today’s app launcher experience that shows five recent apps, the launcher will instead show in full screen mode, similar to an Android tablet.

XDA Developers noticed a code change for testing this but it’s not live yet. If the feature progresses into the Chrome OS Stable channel though — and I assume it will in some form — this new menu display will come to both the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 as well as other Chromebooks that can be used in tablet mode.

The full screen menu is really a minor tweak: You can already scroll the app launcher up and see all of your apps on a supported Chromebook. The difference is that it would eliminate the need to scroll the app launcher up.

There’s also mention of a home button in the code, which would minimize all windows “instead of “opening/closing the launcher.” That makes me wonder if the launcher button will be renamed to the “home” button, similar to the home icon in Android, or if there will be a software home button for this functionality. Either way, it’s clear that Google is continuing to evolve Chrome OS so that it’s more usable on a tablet or in tablet mode for a convertible Chromebook.

About the author

Kevin C. Tofel has covered technology since 2004. He's used ChromeOS since Google debuted the CR-48 in 2010, reviewing dozens of Chromebooks since then. He worked for Google's Chrome Enterprise team from 2016 to 2017, supporting the launch of Android app support. In his free time, he uses Chromebooks to learn software engineering at Launch School. In 2019, Kevin joined the CS Curriculum Committee at his local community college.

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