The new Chromebook Productivity Launcher that’s inbound for users can be tested right now in Chrome OS Canary, and as of yesterday, more of us in the office are able to use it in full. Prior to the latest update, everything worked perfectly with Google’s new pint-sized launcher aside from one thing – folders simply wouldn’t open. Now that they do, there’s little left for the new experiment to do before it feels fully ready for launch – that is, if you exclude the upcoming alphabetization of apps in and out of folders.
In fact, the new Chromebook launcher is so fast and responsive that I was initially floored when I started using it regularly! Take a look at the video above. Unfortunately, the recording rate doesn’t do it justice, but there are several things that I’ve noticed it does to cut out the slow down one experiences with the current launcher. First of all, there is no app paging. For this reason alone, several seconds of of hovering over the edge of the launcher for it to swap to the next page (a la Android homescreen organization) and waiting are removed entirely.
In its place, a continuous scrolling animation shows all of your apps and folders in one wall. picking up an icon and holding it with your left mouse wheel and then scrolling up will quickly jump you to the top where you can drop it in the appropriate folder. There’s virtually no wait time whatsoever!
It doesn’t stop there though – other animations have been cut out too, and as a result, the Productivity Launcher is exactly that – productive. For example, you no longer need to hover over a folder and wait for it to open in order to drop an app or web app into it. The moment you hover over it, you can let go and the app will disappear into its new home!
The same goes for reorganizing apps inside of folders. In the past (In the present for most people) you’d have to drag an app to its new position within a folder and wait for the other ones to shift over – again, much like Android currently works. With the new launcher, however, even moving an app to the first position in a folder is immediate, and all others make way for their new leader instantaneously. I demonstrate all of these things in the video above!
While those are the most significant changes to the way we’ll use the launcher once this rolls out to everyone (I believe it will begin as optional before becoming more popular and replacing the full-screen launcher in time), the fact that this new one is only about a third of the size and does not take up the entire display means that you’re spending much less time dragging your eyes from, left to right to find what you’re looking for. Even basic marketing psychology proves that when someone needs to read a smaller screen space in order to find what they need, they’re more likely to pay attention and get the information they need.
All of this to say that while I wasn’t initially loving the new Chromebook Productivity Launcher’s size and functionality, it’s grown on me much quicker than the current ‘Peeking’ launcher did, and I’m so glad to see that Google is working hard and fast to bring this to the masses. While these improvements mentioned here don’t seem significant, I can promise you that they make all the difference. I can’t wait for you to try it out. If you’re on Chrome OS Canary right now, you can enable the developer flag you see below and restart your device. Tapping the ‘Everything button‘ or clicking it on the bottom-left of your shelf will call up the new and improved launcher – have fun!
Productivity experiment: App Launcher
To evaluate an enhanced Launcher experience that aims to improve app workflows by optimizing access to apps, app content, and app actions. – Chrome OS#productivity-launcher