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Rotation Lock, ‘Always Maximised’ Apps Mode Coming Chrome OS

chromium-tablet-20100202

Touch View Hints At Ongoing Tablet Work

Chrome OS is to experiment with a new ‘always maximised mode’ for applications and browser windows. 

Initial support for the feature arrived in a recent commit to Chromium, where it was described as being in a ‘preview’ state.

When enabled from the system tray all applications, browsers and tabs are fullscreen by default. Applications that are fixed-sized and those that do not support being maximised, are centred in the middle of the screen over a ‘layer’. Popups and other system dialogs are handled in the same way.

Chrome OS Tablet Work

Preview or not, the feature appears to be part of a larger effort aimed at tailoring Chrome OS to better suit touchscreen – specifically tablet – form factors.

Labelled with the ‘touch view’ tag the feature is linked to a series of other changes, including the addition of support for screen rotation detection and locking, and an option allowing applications to be closed from the overview mode.

Lenovo is to release the first convertible laptop/tablet running Chrome OS through education channels later this year.

‘Always Maximised Mode’ is currently described as a ‘preview’ by developers and is not enabled by default.

Experiments Come & Go

Google experiment all the time with feature changes and UI tweaks in Chrome, so the arrival of this specific option shouldn’t be taken as promise of…well, anything!

But it does seem to tie in to another recent experiment of note: a wider Chrome App Launcher centred in the middle of the screen.

While this is touted as likely default behaviour on Linux, where the variety of desktop environments makes the precise positioning of the grid more difficult to predict, it doesn’t seem like an ideal solution on other desktops.

On Windows, Mac and (non-touch) Chrome OS a centred app list would require a lot of travel: one would click the app launcher icon at the bottom the of the screen only to then require mousing up to the middle of the screen to open an app. On large screens and HiDPI displays this would get really annoying, really fast.

We’ll be keeping an eye on Touch View related changes, and will bring you word of anything we hear as soon as we hear it.

Image Credit: Francois Beaufort
  • Wesley Files

    Don’t tease me with that image!

  • Aaron Mayes

    I think chrome os is better suited for tablets better than laptop. I love my chromebook but its a little lacking for me.

    • Roland

      Android is better suited for tablets than Chrome OS, as there aren’t that many Tablets that are 3G or LTE enabled on the market and it would mean using a 3G or LTE Hotspot be that a mifi unit or Cell phone tethering, where as with a Laptop you’re ether going to be using it at home on a Wireless network or a wired network using a USB Ethernet dongle, and while out a public wifi hotspot.

      I use my Chromebook on my wireless network while at home or if I’m not near any form of wifi hotspot I just tether it to my phone.

      Chrome OS is far more productive on a Laptop with an 11.6″ plus screen, it might be just about usable on a 10″ screen, but if you remove the physical Keyboard for an on-screen touch Keyboard it’d be hampered by a loss of screen real estate due to the Keyboard.

      • David

        Exactly. Granted, over the years I have become pretty good at typing on a touch screen with a software keyboard, but it always bothers me that the keyboard takes up such a large amount of space. Due to this frustration, I end up buying a physical keyboard, which when combined with the price of the tablet unit (assuming you don’t purchase a cheaply made Chinese keyboard), almost always exceeds the price of a Chromebook. I used to use my iPad with a ZaggMate keyboard for typing when on-the-go, but since I’ve adopted Chrome OS, I barely use my iPad for writing.

        • Roland

          I ended up buying a Keyboard for my Nexus 7 2012 and use that via a USB OTG cable, but since getting my Chromebook I don’t tend to use it that much & its now just in a smart case and used for when I want to do something without having to use my Chromebook, or for playing games.

          On-screen Keyboards just aren’t that good for touch typing as there isn’t the extra space for a palm-rest like on a laptop, & since getting my Chromebook I’ve learnt how to touch type using the Typing Club web app, I’m not the fastest or error free at the moment but I’m good enough that I can quite quickly type out a blog post, if I was using a touch screen with no physical keyboard I’d still be using one finger from each hand to type.

  • Roland

    I’m going to assume that the Centred App Drawer will be able to be enabled or disabled through chrome flags or directly from within Settings and even be an automatic thing for tablets with keyboard docking stations when docked or un-docked, or in the case of a Lenovo Yoga style device when the screen is opened to a certain point.

    I really can’t see it being a default that can’t be changed, they may even make it so that it’s auto activated for touch screen Chromebooks & tablets.

  • Boothy

    Sometimes I wish Google would just make up their mind on their roadmap.
    Now, I imagine they eventually want Chrome to replace Android, but one just feels that time would be better spent making Chrome a killer OS than trying to get it onto tablets right now. Chrome App development needs a push.
    I love chrome, and where possible a full time ChromeOS user (at home), bit given the choice between an Android or a Chrome Tablet, right now it’s no contest – Android.
    If, BIG if, they ever offered a hybrid with a switch-able chrome/android OS, money not a factor, just point me to the checkout…………..
    (MS are tying, but Google already have the ingredients)

    • Roland

      I’m a full time Chrome OS user like you & only use my Windows Laptop only when I need to do something that I can’t use Chrome OS for, like on Wednesday when I needed to format an external HDD.

      I agree that Google need to concentrate on making Chrome OS better than it already is, then get more Chromebooks, Chrome boxes & Chrome bases out. Then educate people on the strengths & weaknesses of Chrome OS so people can make an informed choice instead of falling for the crap that Microsoft spout, then and only then go into the Tablet market.

    • MrMiketheripper

      I’m thinking they’re just adding all this tablet type stuff for the touch screen Chromebooks/convertibles or for the people that want to use their Chromebook as a tablet of sorts.

    • Lou G

      I don’t see Google, or their major players, wanting Chrome to replace Android.

      Android is fine on smartphones and tablets. Chrome is good for desktops and notebooks. Now a Chrome tablet (maybe Chromelet? you can send me my check, google. LOL) could be in the works but I don’t see it replacing Android at all.

      • Boothy

        Major players, no way. Google, yep.
        Whilst I completely agree with you that Android is currently much better on phones and tablet, it’s not where Google want to be.
        ChromeOS is their baby and end vision, because it’s the web, and that’s their bread and butter.
        Why enable Chrome Apps on Android? If you can get all the apps migrated to web technologies, the underlying OS can be swapped with minimal disruption.
        Android had to happen in it’s current form to stop Apple getting a massive lead in mobile, but the technology in Android is not where they really want to be. It’s not really Google thing. And, they are not monetizing Android as effectively as they are the web.

        It’s also an additional overhead in development and support effort. Harmonizing their efforts to one tech stack , reduces cost and support and allows them to push development forward at a greater pace with one code base.

      • Wesley Files

        I love the term Chromelet now!
        I’ve loved omelets for a long time!

    • miri

      Believe it or not, there are more form factors than clamshell and slate and there is a lot of middle ground between Chrome OS becoming more flexible and killing/merging with Android.

  • Curtis Mitchell

    I can’t say that I’m overly enthusiastic about a pure Chrome OS tablet but I would be all over a transformer like the Lenovo Yoga device. A pure tablet, in my mind, would be a very useful tool in education environments however.

  • Virgil Q Staphbeard

    It’s looking more and more like google are aiming for chromeOS convergence with long-term plans of ditching the open source world completely, i.e. goodbye Android. They are slowly but surely moving all of their Android apps to closed-source.