Chrome OS Canary Contains A Touch-Focused Launcher

July 7, 2017 - Written By Daniel Fuller

Chrome OS has a new launcher in testing that’s focused on making the OS and all its bounties more accessible to users of touchscreen devices, and that new launcher is currently available to the public in the Chrome OS Canary channel. The new launcher includes a full-screen app drawer, accessible through a swipe upwards, along with the moving of the usual Google search bar down to the bottom of the screen area. Along with that Google search bar, a selection of suggested apps is featured at the bottom area of the screen. Swiping up from here will bring you to a redesigned app drawer that will look extremely familiar to anybody who has used Android in the past. The Google search bar not only searches the internet, but searches for programs and files on a device, and is also where the speech box for Google Assistant sits.

Those who want to try out the new launcher will have to ensure that their device is on the latest version of Chrome OS Canary, then they can go into the Chrome Flags menu, where turning on the flag labelled “enable-fullscreen-app-list” will present the user with the new launcher. Once you’ve set up the new flag, simply restart Chrome OS, then hit the magnifying glass to see the changes in action. Toggling the flag off will involve the same steps in order for the change to stick. The code repository for the change has already been made public, so those who wish to inspect or fork the new feature can do so.

As stated above, users will need to be on the newest Canary version of Chrome OS for now in order to try out this feature, and there’s no word on when it could make it into the Stable channel. To make the change to Canary, you’ll first have to enable Developer Mode. Boot into recovery by holding down Refresh and Escape, then pressing the power button. From there, you can turn on Developer Mode. Once it’s activated, getting into Canary involves running some terminal commands, then booting back into recovery and returning to Verified Mode.