The usefulness of Google's appropriately named Chromebook Help pages just got a serious boost thanks to the recently spotted addition of a new animated tool called Chromebook Simulator. As its name suggests, the tool gives users a look at how Chromebooks operate by showing animations for completing various common tasks. It's also conveniently located on the Chromebook Help page, within the pre-expanded "Get started with Chromebooks" section at the very top of the support page.
For the most part, the tool is intended to walk users who are new to Chrome OS through some of the basic features and functionality. That includes explaining how users are added, resetting the device, and more, all neatly organized under their respective expandable categories. Steps are outlined alongside visual representations.
There are also some more advanced methods explained within the online tutorial too. For instance, the system explains how gestures on the touchpad work — arguably one of the more jarring differences to work out when coming from Windows or Mac to a Chromebook. Simultaneously, it describes keyboard alternatives for accomplishing various tasks, such as the ability to hold down the 'alt' key and click rather than clicking with two fingers to access context menus.
Great start but not complete just yet
Although Google's new Chromebook Simulator does seem to be mostly complete at this point, there are still a few things that could be added to the walkthrough and it technically isn't a true simulator. To begin with, it would need to allow users to utilize the methods, clicks, and gestures it is teaching in a simulated environment to qualify but it doesn't quite enable that level of interactivity.
The "Fix Chromebook problems" section additionally gives off a sense that the OS isn't really fixable if things go wrong. Instead of offering up tips for how to fix errors with Bluetooth, printing, or other issues, the new tool effectively just tells users how to update or completely reset their Chromebook.
If users are saving all of their files and data on a Chromebook to the cloud, that doesn't necessarily present a major problem. Realistically, that's how a Chrome OS gadget should be used, aside from cases where onboard storage is temporarily used for important things. Regardless, the lack of any help for those types of problems is disconcerting and may potentially push away new users who explore the tool before buying.
A welcome sign of continuing support for Chrome OS
The new Chromebook Simulator is likely to be a welcome sign for some that Google will continue to support its desktop OS. That's particularly true with consideration for recent news about Google's decision to move a number of its employees away from hardware — particularly from divisions associated with laptops and tablets.
By releasing a new walkthrough for its gadgets, the search giant seems to be affirming that move was not a bid to step away from Chrome OS entirely. Instead, that earlier move may have only been applicable to the hardware itself, with the company looking to scale back projects on that front and give the increasingly powerful competition room to grow.
At the same time, the tool should improve over time and will undoubtedly prove useful for anybody looking into buying a new Chromebook or those who have already bought one.