Sometimes around here, we talk about new features for Chromebook. Sometimes we talk about new hardware. Other times we extol Chrome OS for how secure, speedy and simple it is. But this is not one of those times. Instead, this is a time to call out a long-standing aggravation with all Chromebooks that affects every single user, is embarrassing to still be lacking in 2021, and should be a ridiculously-simple fix for the Chrome OS team.
As you can tell by the title, we’re talking about the app launcher and the inability for the end user to sort it in any straightforward way. Sure, you can drag and drop and reorganize it one app at a time, but there are no sorting options available after nearly a decade of Chromebook existence, and it is a bit ludicrous that this is even a discussion at this stage in the game.
Case in point: a family member of mine recently got their new Chromebook set up and one of the first questions leveled at me – the supposed Chromebook expert – was how they could sort their app launcher. Sheepishly, I had to reply, “Um. You can’t. Not even a little bit.” Oddly enough, to have to say this to them was embarrassing and though I’m not sure what this says about me, the fact that the OS that I so often champion lacks such a basic feature just feels off.
Why isn’t this addressed? Why is this still a missing feature in what is becoming a far more mature OS? I don’t have an answer for that, honestly. Sure, the search feature is what I generally use to find and open the app I’m after, but I’d also like the ability to know my stuff is sorted in some way if I’d rather just look for it myself. Because of the lack of sorting and the inconsistency of the sync from Chromebook to Chromebook with regard to the app launcher, I honestly avoid digging through it at all. In my launcher right this moment, there are pages completely full of apps and other pages with only a couple apps. There are even a few pages that have only one app in them. There are folders littered all around. Some are synced between devices and some aren’t. It’s an absolute mess and I hate navigating it.
If Google’s answer to this is search, I understand that to a point, but I don’t understand not offering a simple sorting solution in addition. Yes, I know iPhones and iPads have this same setup where there is no sorting, but Google isn’t Apple and, frankly, it’s pretty annoying on the iPad I own, too. Is there an Android phone that doesn’t allow any sorting in the app launcher? I can’t name one. And, again, I definitely can’t think of a device that drops apps on separate pages of the app launcher for no good reason. It’s a mess. Period. And Google really needs to address it moving forward. Will it happen anytime soon? I’m not holding my breath, but there is at least an open bug report where you can vent a little bit if you would like and it is linked below. At least head over and give it a star so more attention can be turned towards this silly issue. It is time for it to get fixed.