I’m going to allow myself to get fully nerdy for just a moment as I admit to the world just how excited I am about Virtual Desks coming in Chrome OS 76 because of one small – but HUGELY significant – feature addition. If you’ve followed along since the first mention of Virtual Desks on Chrome OS back in February of this year, you probably already know what I’m getting at. Though seemly minute in scale, this feature will absolutely transform Virtual Desks on Chrome OS into a productivity-boosting machine and I simply cannot wait!
In the event you haven’t been following along since the beginning of the Virtual Desk journey or you’ve just forgotten the one thing I’ve been basically begging for with every new addition to this much-anticipated feature, I’ll go ahead and spill the beans on what’s coming: a dedicated, 4-finger gesture to move between open Virtual Desks! Yes, after countless articles and a request right in the bug tracker, my hopes have been met as today I got the email I’ve been waiting on for months, and it contained this one, simple, wonderful line:
Add support to handle 4-finger swipe and swipe lift
I’m not going to lie to you. I audibly gasped when I saw this email pop up, and my wife was visibly concerned something either terrible or astonishing had happened. Sure, that’s insanely nerdy of me, but I honestly don’t care. Of all the new features added to Chromebooks over the course of 3 years we’ve been covering Chrome OS, I’ve most coveted this feature that’s been available for Mac users and now Windows 10 users for years. Having used it on a few machines over my professional career, I became convinced of its brilliance, and I’m still certain of it to this day.
Multiple-monitor setups increase productivity for most users, giving the space needed to sort and bring order to the chaos our desktops can sometimes invite. With Virtual Desks, you are basically getting 3 extra monitors to sort and manage your desktop on. For me, I love having my primary browser in one desktop, all my messaging in another, my IDE (if I’m doing some design work) in another, and then ancillary stuff like music and notes in the last one. While I can do all this right now in Chrome OS Beta that is in version 76, the big difference is in the navigation.
You see, in the current iteration, moving desktops requires you to either hit the overview button or 3-finger swipe and then click the desk you want to go to. While this still helps with the arrangement of stuff on your desktops, it does little to actually help you get stuff done faster. If you are accustom to simply glancing over to a second or third monitor when you are in a highly-productive mode (imagine looking back and forth to something like a spreadsheet), the idea of a swipe, mouse move, and a click every time you want to virtually ‘glance’ at a different desk feels clunky at best, arduous at worst.
When Virtual Desks are at their best, they allow a virtual version of what it feels like to be on a multi-monitor setup, and that cannot require clicking around to navigate. The feature we’re seeing added today will accomplish this by giving users the ability to trigger a move, left or right, to an adjacent desk with a simple 4-finger swipe in either direction. Consider for a second how long it takes to glance over to your second monitor and know that with this feature, bringing your secondary desk into view is just as quick and painless. Place four fingers on the trackpad, move left or right, and you’ll see your adjacent desks slide into view.
If you’ve never utilized this on a Mac or Windows 10 device, I’d advise you to try it out if you ever work on either of those platforms. When I used both of those in the past, virtual desktop features were indispensable when on the go. As a matter of fact, I got so used to leveraging virtual desktop spaces on those machines that I strongly considered ditching my secondary display. The thing that kept me in a multi-display setup was the background thought that one day I’d operate from a Chromebook only and I knew Chromebooks didn’t have this feature.
That worry looks to be assuaged very soon as Chrome OS 76 is basically around the corner at this point, and with it we’ll finally get Virtual Desks in the Stable Channel with basically every little feature I could hope for. Regardless of all the cool things they’ve done with the feature up to this point, however, I’ve been hesitant to get too excited about its arrival so far because I knew that without a gesture to move between desks, I simply wouldn’t be happy with it.
I’m so very happy to report that this hole looks to be filled today and I can confidently say that of all the things coming to Chrome OS 76 in the coming weeks, this is hands-down, absolutely and unquestionably my favorite. Though the entire Virtual Desks experience hides behind a few flags in the Beta Channel of Chrome OS, we hope it will follow suit of other features and ship right along with Chrome OS 76 without flags and with all its news skills in-tow.
SOURCE: Chromium Bug Tracker