Chrome OS is going to be getting some new changes to its shelf, following significant negative feedback about the decision to remove auto-hide and repositioning functionality when in tablet mode. That left users without the ability to move around the bottom bar of the Chrome OS UI or to move it out of the way when using a Chrome OS tablet or convertible Chromebook. According to a recent Chromium Bug Tracker listing, the change was put in place after a careful examination of conflicting goals in the UI's development. The team wanted to give users more real estate but there isn't always an easy way to get back to the shelf in tablet mode from a full-screen application. They also wanted to ensure the ergonomics of the navigation buttons and features were sound but users like to set their own shelf placement. Lastly, users want to have access to app icons and the launcher but also don't want to limit their screen space or accidentally switch apps or trigger other features when in tablet mode.
However, the developers behind Chrome OS now seem to have discovered a better way to approach the issue than simply locking down the shelf anytime a device is placed in tablet mode – or for tablets like Acer's Chromebook Tab 10. After a thorough investigation of the issues at hand, Googler's determined that some of the problem related to bugs not following an application's commands to hide or reveal the shelf. Those are problems which began to be addressed with the rollout of Chrome 68, with the majority of fixe coming in the next update after that. Additionally, with those bugs fixed, the auto-hide feature is making a full comeback. In fact, it will return to behaving exactly as it did previously, following cues from the more typically used clamshell mode for greater consistency.
The changes in question are already live in the Canary channel of Chrome OS via Chrome 69. They will start arriving elsewhere starting in mid-September on the Beta Channel and for Stable Channel users in October. With the fixes in place, the shelf should respond in conjunction with app UI to allow for a more seamless experience, allowing users to place the shelf where they like and hide or unhide it at will. However, that won't always be the case for every application so the developers are adding another way to access a hidden shelf or hide the shelf, to begin with. Namely, after the update, users will be able to swipe up to access the shelf, as was shown in a recently leaked video thought to show off the unreleased Google Chromebook codenamed 'Nocturne.' Meanwhile, for apps that don't auto-hide the shelf, long-pressing the shelf will bring up the option to hide it manually.