Tailored devices deserve tailored experiences
There’s something that’s been bothering me for the past few years, and I feel that the fix should be rather simple. Currently, one set of applications and data are synchronized across all of your ChromeOS devices that have your Google Account logged into them. While this is great for experiencing multiple Chromebooks, there is one persistent annoyance that contradicts this unity, and I don’t really see anyone talking about it.
When using a ChromeOS tablet, the apps I prefer to use are significantly different from those I use with a mouse and keyboard. I enjoy using Android apps with better touch functionality and stylus features for drawing and notetaking on my Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3. However, on my Pixelbook Go, I prefer web apps for their precise mouse and keyboard interfaces and productivity-oriented focus.
Account sync is great, except for when it isn’t
The issue arises when I pin apps like Artflow Studio, Cursive, YouTube for Android, Gmail, Calendar, and Keep Android apps to my shelf on my Duet and later open my Pixelbook. I find that I now have two of each service on the shelf (one app and one PWA), and there are also apps that don’t make sense to use on a laptop. Since my laptop doesn’t have a stylus and since it would be incredibly awkward anyway since it’s not a 4-in-1, I can’t sketch or jot down notes, and launching the tablet interface for YouTube and other experiences with a keyboard feels disjointed.
I hope that Google addresses this issue in the near future. It shouldn’t be too difficult to sync the pinned apps list first to a device or device form factor identifier before syncing it to our Google Account. If I could maintain separate tablet and laptop experiences for the shelf, if not for the launcher as well, it would greatly improve the user experience.
Google is focused on tablet’s now, right?
With the launch of the Pixel Tablet by Google, now is the perfect time to make this change if it’s possible. The company has gone miles and miles to rework so many apps for larger displays and touch input, so why can’t it also reconsider ChromeOS beyond the pretty new Material You design it’s centered around the unified interactions for touch and mouse/keyboard? That same love and attention should also go into reworking the DNA of how the operating system… well, operates!
A tablet version of ChromeOS should work like a tablet, catering to users’ needs for entertainment, leisure and rapid interactions and glanceability. A laptop version of ChromeOS should adapt in the opposite way. So far, it feels like Google is thinking entirely about how to make Chromebooks compete with Windows in new ways, and less about how it will retain its tablet focus and simplicity for the other half of its userbase when a device is flipped or detached (beyond its looks, that is). I urge anyone who feels strongly about this inconsistency to comment below, so we can determine if this issue is widespread or specific to my usage.
Perhaps Google could allow users to toggle whether or not the shelf is synced across devices in the Settings app. It would be another step if they dynamically swapped you between both sets of pinned apps if you changed your tablet into a laptop by connecting a keyboard or flipping it, but that’s probably too much to ask. This would give us control without requiring a separate setup. Let me know your thoughts because constantly switching pinned apps when switching devices is not something I look forward to. The pinned apps section is supposed to save us from extra work, right?