We’ve been a bit inundated with new info on upcoming Chromebooks and, frankly, I’m pretty excited about many of the Chromebooks on the horizon in 2021. From big screens to mobile tablets, it seems 2021 will bring Chromebooks for nearly any use case and just about any user. With Windows apps via Parallels, the continued work to make Linux apps more cohesive, improvements on the way for Android apps, the continuing growth of PWAs, and Steam games via ‘Borealis’ inbound, Chrome OS is set up to be as prolific and widely beneficial for users as it has ever been.
One thing that is often overlooked in the humble Chromebook, however, is the fact that the vast majority of them have touchscreens at this point. It is so common, in fact, that when one of the few aggravations leveled at the new M1 Macbook Pro is the lack of touch capability, I’m still a bit in shock that a modern OS can ship with no support for touch at this point. Sure, Apple have their reasons, but that doesn’t mean users don’t expect to simply be able to reach up and touch the screen when that action both is simpler and makes more sense than using the trackpad.
In that vein, it makes me happy to see Chrome OS continue to adopt and tailor itself to touch as time goes on, and as today’s upcoming change will show, the Chrome OS team is constantly considering new ways for users to interact with the touch screen on a Chromebook: convertible and clamshell alike.
According to a recent commit (still yet to be merged), the team is at work to make the ALT+TAB multitasking UI even more touch-friendly with the added ability to swipe through your open windows. As it stands now, you can select a window to bring into focus (at least in the Canary Channele) by tapping it, but you can’t scroll through your list of open windows. This change will make that possible.
cros: Add touch scrolling to window cycle list (alt-tab).
Currently the only touch interactions the window cycle list handles is taps. Users should also be able to scroll the list by swiping their screen as well.
This CL makes it so users can scroll the window cycle list with their touch screen.via the Chromium Repositories
A small change? Sure, but it highlights the continuing effort to make Chrome OS more and more at home on all sorts of form factors. Ignoring touch input on devices with a keyboard and mouse is just silly. Sure, I interact 90% of the time with my Chromebook via the built-in hardware input devices, but there are plenty of times I just instinctively reach up and touch the screen to get the job done. As more and more users come to Chrome OS, there will be a continuing need to meet them where they are. Cleaning up touch-oriented tasks helps that in big ways, even if the changes look small.