Chrome Canvas Brings Basic Drawing Tools To Google's OS & Browser

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Google has a web application on the way for stylus-based drawings and writing called Chrome Canvas, recently spotted making an appearance in the Chrome OS app launcher for some users on the Dev Channel. The tools included in Chrome Canvas and its UI are currently very basic. Its home page consists of two buttons to start a new project from scratch or from a photo and a three-dot menu for viewing the privacy policy, terms of service, and syncing projects across a Google account. Created projects are shown in rows on the homepage with their own menus for renaming, deleting, or exporting the file. While in a project, users have a home button, undo and redo buttons, and the option to export alongside a color-selector, pencil, pen, marker, chalk, and eraser tools. Under each of those drawing implements, opacity and brush sizing sliders are present while colors can be selected from a default palette or custom picked.

Built for the web to work from anywhere

The app appears to be built on the same foundations as the search giant's recently launched photo compression and conversion web app Squoosh. That app was introduced during the 2018 Chrome Dev Summit and built around Google's best practices for Chrome development. In the case of Squoosh that included parsing JavaScript separately and taking advantage of the latest Web Workers enhancements in conjunction with utilizing WebAssembly. That allows it to act as a dedicated creativity or production tool with similar usability to native software for Chromebooks and other Chrome OS gadgets. Rather than solely appearing as a Chrome OS web app, there's also a URL-accessible website for Chrome Canvas that seems to work on any platform that happens to have a browser. A sign-in to Google is still required for syncing and saving drawings but they can still be exported, even in a non-chromium browser such as Firefox on Android. For users on Chrome OS who aren't on the Beta Channel, it can be downloaded as a standalone web app from Google Chrome just like any other PWA by navigating to the browser's three-dot menu and clicking the 'Install Chrome Canvas' option.

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This is beta for now

With an active stylus in use, such as that shipped with the Samsung Chromebook Plus or Google Pixelbook, touch inputs from hands are ignored while the tip is within a certain range of the screen. But drawing in Chrome Canvas doesn't actually require a dedicated stylus or pen. Instead, it can be accomplished using a fingertip on touchscreens or using a mouse or trackpad for those devices that don't have touchscreens. As alluded to above, the experience also doesn't feel complete just yet though. Even on a device such as the Samsung Chromebook Plus, where pressure sensitive input is supported, there's no pressure sensitivity built into Canvas. So neither a pen or stylus presently offers a major advantage for the time being. The starkness of the interface and relatively limited options compared to dedicated Android apps or art software, in addition to the somewhat latency-ridden performance of the app are most likely due to this being an early release. Google will most likely address input lag, at a minimum, prior to its release to the Chrome OS Stable Channel.

Chrome Canvas