The built-in Gallery or Media App on Chrome OS is relatively simplistic but for the most part, it contains the tools that most users look for in a basic media viewer. When you open an image with the Gallery viewer, you are presented which options that include scaling, crop and rotation, and basic lighting filters. You can also view basic information about the image such as file size, dimensions, and date taken or modified. Again, pretty basic stuff but it’s about all you need when handling an image on the fly. I often used the crop tool to trim down images to the 16:9 ratios we use for our website before heading over to the Squoosh app to compress the file for upload.
If you were to ask the average Chromebook user what is missing from the Gallery app, I would bet a cup of coffee that the mass majority would quickly answer “an annotation tool.” The lack of an in-built pen tool to markup images may seem like a minor oversight to some. However, for those of us that deal with images multiple times a day, being able to simply click a file in the Files app and then make annotations is a necessary tool that can have a serious impact on workflow. Before you chastise me, yes, I am fully aware that you can set images to open by default in Google Keep or third-party tools that have annotation capabilities but we shouldn’t have to do that.
Thankfully, a recent update to the Canary channel of Chrome OS has revealed that we soon will have a native annotation tool for what is now called the Media app. Aptly named “Media App Annotation,” the flag appeared in a Canary update this morning but it is definitely still a work in progress. Enabling the flag does, in fact, add an annotation button to the Media app when you are viewing an image file but clicking the tool brings up two unfinished and unusable options for pen size and color. It is possible that more options could be added down the road but honestly, I’ll be ecstatic to have these simple markup tools at my disposal.
The flag for this was created just a couple of weeks ago so I don’t think we’ll see it roll up to Stable any time soon. That said, this seems like a simple, albeit incredible addition to the Chrome OS Media app and I would love to see developers push this one up the ladder sooner than later. Perhaps they can get the annotation tool ironed out and ready for Chrome OS 88 that is slated to arrive in late January of 2021. We’ll keep tabs on the annotation tool and let you know when it becomes fully functional.