Chrome OS tablets and convertibles have come a long way in just a few years. Starting with the Pixel Slate, launched in late 2018, Chrome OS received a big UI overhaul that squarely focused the entire experience around touch for tablets and convertibles. The centered icons on the shelf, the full-width app launcher and the stacked system tray and notifications are all parts of that redesign that radically changed the way we see our general Chrome OS interface. The focus was clear even if it was poorly executed at first: Chrome OS is to be a desktop OS with heavy influence from touch-based operating systems. Tablets and convertibles were on Google’s mind at the time, and the sweeping changes to how users interact with Chrome OS still hold to this day.
Some of those changes and tweaks have been done away with or relegated to a tablet-mode-only utilization, and I’d argue that is the right move. With things like the smaller, more desktop-friendly app launcher on the way, I think Google is slowly making Chrome OS work well on both desktop and tablet form factors as iteration continues with each and every update.
With all that focus, there are still misses along the way, and I’m hopeful that this issue can be corrected with some ease. For some tablet devices, Google has already made the fixes necessary and there’s no problem. Yet, on convertible Chromebooks in tablet mode and on Google’s own tablet (the Pixel Slate), the issue persists: the volume rocker won’t reverse when you flip your device’s orientation. It sounds goofy, it is goofy, and it is frustrating if you ever choose to use your convertible Chromebook as a tablet.
In a tablet, this would not only be inexplicable – it would be unacceptable. To be always guessing which way is up with regard to volume makes little to no sense to me. I presume Google sees this in the same way and that is why they have fixed the issue for actual tablets running Chrome OS. Well, newer ones, anyway. Devices like the ASUS CM3, Lenovo Duet and the Lenovo 10e don’t struggle with this. If you flip your tablet one way and the screen rotates, the volume rocker follows your screen’s vertical orientation.
Unfortunately this isn’t the case for any convertible I picked up and tested this morning. And I tested a bunch of them. After seeing a commit in the Chromium Repositories about an upcoming Chromebook tablet (‘Homestar’) having this fix put in place, I became curious as to whether or not this has been fixed on convertible Chromebooks, too. At this point, it seems the universal answer is a big, fat no.
There’s still an outstanding bug report in the Google Issue Tracker, but it hasn’t seen activity since November of last year. Worse still, the last entry on that bug claims the issue has been resolved. Feel free to visit, star, and comment to your heart’s content if this volume rocker problem plagues you as well. Perhaps Google will see that the “fix” in this situation needs to extend further than just a few devices and they may implement a real change that addresses the issue. At this point, after waiting around for a few years for this to be addressed, I’m about done holding my breath on this one. And that just seems really silly.