Chrome OS 81 May Finally Deliver A Much-Needed Files UI Facelift


Google is finally testing a change to the Chrome OS Files application that centers more around aesthetics and UI than its utility. Summarily, as shown in recently reported screen captures, the changes center around the appearance of the left-hand file directory in the app. That's the area where folders and different partitions of the storage are shown, including cloud services.

The most noteworthy difference is in the icons. Those have been scaled up slightly and given somewhat thicker lines. But the shapes are also more refined and Google is sticking to its Material Design 2.0 guidelines in terms of empty space carved out of the middle portions of the icons.

In addition to that change, the font used in that left-hand panel seems to be slightly refined as well.


Usability should also be improved since the cookie-crumbs along the top panel have been moved to the main window instead of the sidebar. That means that there's more room, coupled with a slight increase in icon size, making things easier to read. That makes things easier to see without scrolling too since it limits the space taken up by unnecessary text along the top of that panel.

The UI for the remainder of the Files app in Chrome OS is presented exactly as it was before. That creates a disparage in appearance that will undoubtedly be rectified with more testing and releases in the beta channels.

Any other incoming changes soon?

The upcoming change centers mostly around bringing the app up-to-speed, following appearance changes to a good portion of Chrome OS. That includes recent changes that have been made to bring the menus and flow of settings more in line with Material Design. But it also includes a massive number of changes to how Google Assistant works and functions as well as to how sound is controlled.


That implies that the change could be more than skin-deep. In effect, since most major UI alterations have come with significant behind-the-scenes or functionality changes, this one could too. It remains to be seen just what those will be.

In the interim, Google has already announced, for the second time in 2019, a fairly substantial milestone update for the OS. That will roll out over the proceeding weeks and months, mostly between the current variant of Chrome OS and the next.

For now, there are two big incoming changes that are similar in scope to the incoming Files changes.


The first big change arriving throughout Chrome 79's milestone is one that brings playback controls to the Chrome OS lock screen. The second allows mousepad controls to be accelerated or not at the flip of a switch.

This should arrive soon enough

Chrome 80 rolls out starting in early February and any incoming changes to Files and its UI could be arriving alongside. That remains the case even though the company is testing for version 81 of Chrome OS since the changes could feasibly be completed by then. The cut-off for big changes in Chrome 80 will happen in late January.

At the latest, the changes are slated to land around the mid-March timeframe. After that, Chrome OS 81 is expected on or around March 24. For now, the changes to Files can only be found in the Canary Channel. They're tucked away behind the "#files-ng" flag in the Chrome://flags experimental menu.

chrome os files app ng redesign material theme
Chrome OS 81 Files app gets a material redesign