After spending years as a separate icon, your Chromebook’s wallpapers will soon be housed in the Settings app instead, or perhaps in addition to. In Chrome Canary, you can now enable the new wallpaper experience flag and then reboot. Once you’re back up and running, just head over to the Settings app, go to ‘Appearance’ and then ‘Wallpaper’.
You may or may not see a list of the wallpaper categories that exist inside of the standalone Wallpaper app. For some of us, this area is currently blank, but we managed to grab an image of the quite unrefined UI that can be found here. In fact, it’s so rudimentary right now that there are no cover images for the categories, no ability to crop or center crop, or even to enable to daily wallpaper rotator.
Merging your wallpapers into the Settings app could also allow integration with your ‘screensaver‘ options. Since your screensaver allows you to pick from your Google Photos, and Photos integration is on its way to the OS, this could hint at the ability to directly choose wallpapers from Google Photos! While this is just my analysis of the possibilities, you have to admit, it’s compelling.
Though a work-in-progress, it’s clear that Google’s intent is to move everything into this space before it comes to the stable channel. My hope is that they leave the ability to change the wallpaper in a separate app icon, as well as by right-clicking the wallpaper or shelf. Having multiple options is kind of Google’s schtick, and as I use their services and see people complain about this, I realize that it’s the smartest approach since it provides more ways for users to customize their experience day-to-day.
Google continues to kill the idea of the traditional app by moving features into the operating system directly and into the web via PWAs. I have a working theory as to why this is, but any time anyone talks about Fuchsia, Google shoots down the notion that they want to replace Chrome OS, Pixel phone Android, Wear OS, and their other operating systems with it.
Call me crazy now, but I truly believe that that is the end game. It may seem like a stretch at this time, but the less app dependent Chrome OS becomes and the more app dependent Android becomes, the more plausible it becomes that the company is seeking to halt association with the fragmented OS and create a universal in-house OS that can run across their products. In fact, Google recently proposed a way for Fuchsia to run Android and Linux programs ‘natively’. Both of these things are core components that extend the capabilities of Chrome OS, so it doesn’t seem out of question to me that there’s something brewing.
What are your thoughts on the new home location of the wallpaper app? I’m of the mind that I preferred it in its own icon, but if I can still access it via right-clicking the currently set wallpaper, I really don’t care either way – I’m just happy to see how polished and well thought out Chrome OS is becoming over the past few years. What aspect of the system do you wish were changed? Do you think my Fuchsia theory is too wild? Let’s discuss!