It's Safe To Update Your Chromebook On Dev & Beta Channels Again

best tech sales chromebooks drawing pen
Advertisement
Advertisement

Chromebook users can once again safely update their devices on the Dev, Beta, and Canary Channels, reports indicate, following a fix to the underlying firmware on those channels. Google decided to roll back the recent firmware release following reports that it broke handwriting and drawing features. Or at least one part of the update.

What Chromebook breaking bug was in the unstable update channels

Now, the bug in question was actually intended to be a feature. Dubbed 'uniform app scaling', the feature was intended to size up interactive elements in Android apps. That's in addition to other parts of the UI. Summarily, Google was implementing the change in order to bring more unity between the appearance and function of native Chrome apps and Android apps. But that didn't work as intended in the slightest.

Instead, the change not only created a serious dissonance between the Chromebook app and Android app experience. Elements were, for example, sized and placed far differently than they had been and not at all consistently.

Advertisement

That didn't interfere at all with capabilities or functionality. But the change also caused serious problems with another common Chromebook feature. Namely, styli and pens — and that problem did interfere with functionality.

With the firmware installed, there was a noticeable latency increase for inputs using a stylus or pen. There was also a noticeable difference in the appearance of touch interactions. For instance, drawing or handwriting in an Android app, after the update, resulted in lines appearing inches away from where they should have. In some cases, that distance appeared to grow as the length of the line and complexity did.

USI stylus support and proprietary stylus support have been among the biggest recent additions to Chromebook platforms. So problems with that functionality in an update present a clear problem.

Advertisement

Google still hasn't fixed the issue

None of that means that the functionality that was meant to be improved has been. As noted above, Google's fix effectively removed the incoming app aesthetic unification feature entirely. For now, the intended update that was causing the issue for the Chromebook platform on test channels doesn't appear to have a fix.

While that's better than a broken feature, it does mean that app scaling woes on Chrome OS are going to stick around for a bit longer. Specifically, those are issues most users won't notice. Such as on-screen app elements like buttons and text appearing just a bit smaller than they should when scaled up to fill larger Chromebook screens.