Chrome OS will be getting more optimization for tablet mode in the near future to solve laggy UI and at least one other related issue, based on a recent bug first sighted in the Chromium Bug Tracker by ChromeUnboxed. The bug is presently marked as assigned, meaning that it has been given to specific developers to solve, it's also just one step below top-priority. In the report, the problem is defined as being primarily — but not only — caused by the rounded corners brought with the latest Chrome OS updates and the "Mask Layers" used to create the effect. Parts of the UI where background blur is used, such as in the overview mode seem to affected more than others. For clarity, that's the portion of the UI that acts as a kind of recent apps screen for windows and applications running on a Chromebook or other gadgets on the platform. Using that mode appears to be causing a lot of latency in terms of input and rendering. Content from inside the objects that are shown in the mode is not always rendered properly either, if it does at all.
Propping up Pixel Slate and other Chrome OS tablets
There's no current estimate for when the fix will roll out but as mentioned, it is set to a relatively high priority. That's not surprising since Google only recently launched its own tablet on the Chrome OS platform with the Google Pixel Slate and the reported issue is cropping up on at least some models. Those devices started shipping in early December though and the issue was put into the bug tracker in November initially, so it's obviously been an issue elsewhere too. Since both the amount of memory a device is working with and its processor appear to be factors in whether or not the problems show, lower-end models would be expected to be the most affected. For the Google Pixel Slate, that's going to be the $599 entry-level model with 4GB RAM and 32GB storage backing up an Intel Celeron Kaby Lake processor. Acer's $329.99 Chromebook Tab 10 is the only other dedicated Chrome OS tablet for now and ships with an OP1-rated SoC comprised of a dual-core ARM Cortex-A72 coupled with a quad-core Cortex-A53 processor. That tablet also shares the same memory and storage as the entry-level Pixel Slate.
The UI is here to stay
This isn't necessarily great news for those users who dislike the Material Design 2.0 interface and the element changes Google has been implementing over the past several updates. It doesn't appear as though the UI is going away. Instead, the developers on the project are searching for new ways to implement the feature that won't be quite so intense with regard to resources used. There are a few ways developers are considering accomplishing that, according to the most recent bug report updates. Those range from changing the order and method by which the mask is applied to using a shader to apply the mask instead of the current method. The company may ultimately choose to clip the layer at the corners instead of using a mask. In addition to being far less demanding on the processing side, the method could help the team behind Chrome OS to pursue Android-like animations for the UI.