One of the more difficult things for Chromebooks to handle right now is the treatment of full screen Android apps. The process, as it stands right now, is awkward at best.
I recently had the pleasure of talking with Kan Liu, Director of Product Management for Google, and he let me in on how this will be handled in the very near future.
How It Works Now
Currently, using a full screen app on a Chromebook is odd. When in laptop mode, there is a dedicated full-screen key (F4) that does exactly what you’d expect. The current window will go full screen, removing the top bar and hiding the dock below.
It works pretty great, actually.
The issue is with tablet mode. Once flipped over into a tablet, Chrome OS really doesn’t have a way to handle this.
Here’s a quick for instance. If I’m going to play Modern Combat, in order to get into full screen mode (as you want with this type of app) I have to launch the game in laptop mode, hit the full-screen button, and then flip into tablet mode.
If I’m in tablet mode and launch an app, there is no way to get into this mode. The app will launch and the bar up top will remain. The only way to get into full screen is to flip back into laptop mode, hit the full-screen key, and flip back into tablet mode.
This is odd and awkward.
How It Will Work Soon
Moving forward, Kan informed me that immersive, full-screen mode will be handled just like Android.
Think about the apps that you launch and they immediately go full-screen and into immersive mode. YouTube, for instance, behaves this way when you are watching a video in landscape mode. Games like Modern Combat do this as well. A simple swipe in from the sides brings back the dock and top bars for navigation elements.
The same immersive mode code that is in Android will become part of the Chrome OS experience as well.
How this will work, exactly, is unclear. Hopefully it will only take effect when you are in tablet mode as it would be really odd for this behavior to take place when in laptop mode. I’d love to simply see a button in the dock for immersive mode, but it seems like it will be on a per-app basis and will have to be coded into the app.
The best part is, immersive mode has been around on Android long enough that most apps that need it already have it enabled. Once Chrome OS understands how to take advantage of it, the issue basically takes care of itself.
Devices like the Samsung Chromebook Pro and Plus, with their tablet-like leanings, will benefit greatly from this.
Time will tell how exactly this gets implemented, but it is encouraging that one of the worst parts of the Android experience on Chromebooks looks to be corrected soon.