When it comes to desktop UI, Chrome OS is clearly the baby of the bunch. Its lifespan is only a fraction of more-established players like Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, but the development cycle for it is so regular that we’re seeing the maturation happen much quicker than expected. Make no mistake, Google clearly borrows from other desktop setups when adding features to its laptop OS, and I’d contend that’s a good thing.
With long-standing operating systems, they’ve had the time to try new UI elements and decide which ones work and which do not. If Chrome OS gets better UI elements from already-established features that have been in place and utilized for years already, I’m not opposed to a bit of copycat action. Virtual Desks was a product of what’s been done before and I’m very glad it is a feature I can utilize now with my Chromebook.
Chrome OS clearly borrows from many established Android elements as well, so as the OS continues to grow and add new features, I’m a fan of Google adding things that have already shown themselves as useful to users regardless of the operating system. That is what we’re seeing being tested today, thanks to a keen eye by 9to5 Google finding reference to a feature coming to Chrome OS that has existed on Macbooks for quite some time: hot corners.
If you aren’t familiar, hot corners is a feature on Macbooks that allows for user-set shortcuts to be triggered when the mouse cursor lands in any corner for a few seconds. On a Macbook, these hot corners can be mapped to things like overview mode, virtual desks, notifications, and more. I could see Chrome OS leveraging them in a similar fashion and I know I’d personally use them for Virtual Desks pretty regularly if they do end up becoming a feature in the future.
Apart from this commit where the addition of the feature flag is mentioned, there is little else to go on at this point. The related bug report is, not surprisingly, blocked from public viewing, so we’ll just have to wait until this flag shows up in a Dev or Canary channel in the future to see this in action. As it stands now, the commit is in the review process and hasn’t been pushed to any particular build, so we’ll just have to wait patiently for it to appear down the road. I’d assume we’ll see this added to the Chrome OS 81 or 82 build, but there are no guarantees there.
As a feature that has been on Mac OS for years, I’m glad to see Google bringing this on board for Chromebooks. The more features we can snag from existing, established desktop UIs, the better. As more and more folks begin the migration to Chrome OS in light of more premium hardware like the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, the more we’ll have users expecting the things they’ve utilized on other machines. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this one as it progresses, so be sure you are subscribed to the updates newsletter so you don’t miss a thing.