One thing I’ve loved for basically the entire time I’ve used Chromebooks is the smooth operation of the Chromebook trackpad. As gestures have been added and better materials have been used for their construction, the Chrome OS trackpad has been a consistently improving over time. Compared with the years of terrible, wonky Windows laptop trackpads, my time spent with Chromebook trackpads has been one of the bright spots of the entire experience.
Over that time, I’ve grown quite accustom to a handful of gestures to navigate my devices. One, two, three and even four-finger gestures are great ways to ramp up productivity and move through tasks with more speed and ease. Jumping to overview mode with a quick 3-finger swipe up or scrubbing through my open tabs with a left/right 3-finger swipe have become habits that dominate my daily routines. But now I’m seeing evidence that those routines may be getting a bit of a shake up. Check out this commit and its rather-clear language:
Virtual Desks and Overview swipes finger count changes
– Tab scrubbing: change to use 4-finger gestures.
– Desk switch: change to use 3-finger gestures.
– Overview selection: change to use 4-finger gestures.
This change is being tested right now and will involve all the current gestures that use 3 or 4 fingers. In general, it looks like they’ll simply be swapping the current 3-finger gestures to now require 4 fingers and making the 4-finger Virtual Desk switch gestures now only require three fingers.
I’m of the mind that the simpler the task, the simpler the gesture should be. In that context, I think the current setup makes total sense just as it is. Going to overview mode or moving between tabs is a much smaller move that jumping between Virtual Desks, so I think it is more intuitive to make the gesture for the more complex task a more complex gesture.
For users like myself who have become habitually ingrained with these gestures, this will be a pretty tough transition and I’m not fully clear on why this is even necessary. Perhaps tab scrubbing and overview mode are getting triggered a bit too easily and too frequently and they want to take that error out of the equation for users. I have a hard time coming up with any further reasons for the change, but it looks to be merged in Chrome OS 78 and moving forward with or without my consent. =)