Google is holding to its promise to continue supporting Chrome OS tablet OEMs with testing for new Android 10-like gestures. That's based on new flags recently spotted for devices on the platform, adding those gestures to the OS.
The features won't be available to all users just yet since they're only being added as flags or to the underlying Chromium code. But they do provide insight about Google's plans moving forward.
For now, those gestures chiefly center around the 'home' screen on Chrome devices. That's what Google appears to be calling the launcher drawer — an area of the UI that works similarly to Android's app drawer.
More accurately, the changes center around the looking to make the home screen UI more modular. That's already accessible on buggier Chrome OS channels but could still take some time to arrive.
Rather than aligning everything on a single shelf, app UI items from that would be moved above the rest of the shelf. For clarity, those would be the app icons for pinned or open apps and windows. Google is referring to that segment of the UI as the "Hotseat."
Below those icons, the rest of the UI remains mostly intact in a standard gray bar. The bar is remarkably similar to that found in Android 10 and works approximately the same way.
Google is experimenting with Android gestures for Chrome OS
Unsurprisingly, the remaining slew of gestures recently added for testing follow a similar pattern.
To begin with, Google is testing a more intuitive way to get to the home screen and to the overview page. Aptly dubbed the “Homerview” gesture, which encompasses an upward swipe typically used to access the home screen. Now, swiping again will open up the overview screen so users can easily access their open apps and windows.
A similar swiping gesture is being added to allow apps or windows to be quickly dragged forward or to the shelf. That appears to work with apps that don't have any windows currently open and might enable a more rapid organization of virtual desktops once completed.
More traditional gestures aren't absent in the underlying code and experimental settings either. Googlers are testing the ability to swipe from the left-hand edge too. If done "with enough drag distance or fling velocity" that will effectively instantiate a click on the back button. In Chrome, that would move users to the previous page. It might also work in apps for going 'back'.
Made by Google gave up on Chrome OS tablets but Google isn't
As suggested above, the changes appear to point to Google upholding its end of a statement made several months back. Namely, the search giant had said that it was no longer pursuing Chrome OS tablet hardware but that it would continue to support manufacturers of those on the software side.
That news followed lackluster sales of the company's Google Pixel Slate.
The tablet-like device was plagued with negative reviews and reports from the outset. Most of those derived from the fact that Chrome OS was not well-designed to work with touch-only interaction. The UI and experience were clunky and comparatively slow, even with the top-tier variant of Google's Pixel Slate.
Those problems were reported alongside issues with jittery responses in the operating system's overview screen animations, among other things.
Google has since fixed most of the issues but the company unceremoniously went so far as to cancel the budget-end version of its tablet. The fixes implemented by Google surrounding touch interactions in the interim have been anything but perfect. This latest run of test features, conversely, seems to signal a step in the right direction.