Chromebook Overview Feature May Have Updates On the Way

Chrome OS has had a ton of U.I. changes moving through its channels over the past couple of months but an entirely new one has now been spotted by Chrome Unboxed. The redesign applies to the operating system's dedicated overview mode. For those who may not already know, that's the view which shows all open applications and windows in a dedicated grid view at the press of the overview button - for Chromebooks, that's the square and two verticle lines key ordinarily positioned just above the number '6.' The new changes adjust the animations, textual cues, and visual effects in order to make everything smoother and easier to read while cutting back on performance power needed just to enter overview mode. Of course, they are currently only available in the less stable Dev channel and need to be activated via the hidden flags settings. So it isn't recommended users try to access them unless they already have a good amount of technical experience with the devices.

The most notable change may be that the animations are slightly different and background blurring occurs, most likely to save processing power. Both versions of the feature animate the transition to overview mode but things are different on the return transition. In the latter case, animations only occur for applications that go from overview mode to something other than full-screen mode. That's probably because in full-screen mode none of the other apps will be seen, so it really serves no purpose at all to animate them other than to use up processing power. However, another noteworthy change is that text has been scaled up and bolded to make it easier to read what each app is. That should be helpful in situations where several apps or websites have a similar user interface. Moreover, app logos are displayed in the updated version. Finally, users will have a clearer view of where they are clicking, to prevent accidental app closure, thanks to a circular shape that appears when the mouse moves over the "x" for an app or window.

It shouldn't take too long for small changes like these to find their way to the consumer-ready Stable Channel of Google's OS. For those feeling a bit less patient, a Chromebook needs first be moved to the Dev Channel via the settings menu - under About Chrome OS. Once, that process is complete, users need to navigate to the chrome://flags URL and search for "overview," enabling the resulting "enable new overview UI" and "enable new overview animations" settings. After a restart, the new overview mode should be enabled. For everybody else, Chrome Unboxed uploaded a short clip of the current overview layout and the new one - which have been included below.

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About the Author

Daniel Golightly

Senior Staff Writer
Daniel has been writing for AndroidHeadlines since 2016. As a Senior Staff Writer for the site, Daniel specializes in reviewing a diverse range of technology products and covering topics related to Chrome OS and Chromebooks. Daniel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering and has a background in Writing and Graphics Design that drives his passion for Android, Google products, the science behind the technology, and the direction it's heading. Contact him at [email protected]
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