Not long ago, we came across a small scrap of evidence that the possibility for detachable Chromebooks was real. That evidence was very slim, but hopeful. We now have something much more concrete.
To refresh, our previous article saw only a passing comment from a committer about what to do with detachables with regard to the recovery mode key combos. It makes sense to start thinking about this stuff if Chrome OS tablets are looming in the future. You need a way to handle things that, for now, are bound to keyboard functions.
But that was just a comment, not an actual commit. Almost like a passing thought.
Just a few nights ago, a handful of commits showed up in the Chromium Repositories, all around adding a menu function to the recover boot screen for detachables.
Most of these are dealing with options on the recovery or developer mode boot screens. This makes sense if you are tweaking UI elements for tablets. Not only would there need to be a different key combo to enter developer mode, some changes would have to be made to those screens from a UI perspective.
I’d think they would handle it similar to how Android does for it’s different boot menus, utilizing volume and power buttons for selection.
There’s one commit in this group that is a bit different, and it involves adjusting voltage regulation for USB ports. Most interestingly, this commit is the first I’ve seen to actually use the word tablet without reference to a convertible device. This is directly referencing config files for a Chrome OS tablet. Check it out!
Also fix the settings for the detachable tablet config to match the skylake HSIO tuning guide as it was incorrect before.
Now, I don’t know exactly what that is and I don’t really care to. The point is, configurations are being put into place for true Chrome OS tablets. Sure, there are some UI things to think through when imagining a Chromebook without a keyboard or touchpad (and that is exactly what these commits are dealing with), but the fact those things are in play at this point is crazy-exciting!
With all the convertible Chromebooks already in the works, this gives us a whole new segment of devices to look forward to this year. With the Lenovo Yoga Book getting a proper Chrome OS version, all this development should get a nice push in the right direction. Considering the Yoga Book doesn’t really have a keyboard or touchpad (in the traditional sense, anyway), some of these small UI decisions will have to be made already. That should only mean faster development for the handful of tweaks needed to see a fully-realized Chrome OS tablet.
With a smooth Android app UI and all of your Chrome OS goodies in-tow, I think a well-made Chrome OS tablet could be a very, very compelling device. And I, for one, am looking very forward to tracking this development.