In what is a relatively expected move, it looks like Chrome for Mac will soon take advantage of the Mac’s Touch Bar in an upcoming update.
What’s A Touch Bar?
In a nutshell, some of the latest versions of Apple’s Macbook Pro utilize a small screen in place of the function keys that can be made to do basically anything the software developer wishes.
In Final Cut, for instance, shortcuts and quick controls appear when focused on that particular app and are there for the user’s convenience.
There’s some back and forth on the web about the real usefulness of this feature, but all that aside, the Touch Bar is likely going to become a staple of Macbooks for the foreseeable future, so software developers need to adapt accordingly.
Chrome Support In Canary
It looks like Google has made that adaptation and is in the process of getting the change rolled out in the Canary channel.
Chrome Canary is the highly-experimental version of Chrome that is even further ahead of the curve than the Developer Channel. Usually too unstable for any extended use, Canary is the channel for experiments.
From what we can tell, Chrome 58 Stable is where we’ll likely see this fully implemented.
What It Could Do
According to Mac Rumors, the current iteration is limited on its actual feature set, but I’d fully expect Google to implement most of the things Safari is currently doing with the Touch Bar. Things like browsing open tabs or bookmarks could actually be useful in addition to the normal forward/back and URL/Omnibar support.
What could be really fun would be giving Extension developers access to a bit of this space. Imagine a quick swipe over to access your Chrome Extensions. Some really interesting things could be done with Extension access right at your fingertips.
One instance I can think of right off the top of my head is an Extension I use that resizes my window to specific, preset sizes. I use it to get an idea of what sites will look like on various screen resolutions.
To have a quick key right at my fingers that could switch through a few of those options would be a very appealing feature.
Given access, I’m sure developers could come up with some very interesting use cases.
Only time will tell how well Google implements this new feature, but between the popularity of Chrome and Macbooks, it is good to see Google getting in the game and expanding Chrome to take advantage of interesting new hardware.