Yes, you read that correctly. In this latest commit, uncovered by our very own +Gabriel Brangers, we see very clear language surrounding the imminent arrival of “hover-enabled touchpads” coming to Chrome OS. Here is some of that language:
…we’re beginning to get hover-enabled touchpads. For these touchpads the events…won’t necessarily
mean that the finger is touching the pad, it could be hovering above it.
Here is the link for the commit referenced above. It seems to be dealing mainly with the hover function for trackpads on the devices that don’t have this feature (basically all the existing Chromebooks at this point), making sure that both hover and non-hover trackpads work seamlessly.
What’s most interesting to us is the fact that hover-enabled trackpads aren’t a thing anywhere else in the laptop market. This looks to be a brand-new input element that Google will soon implement.
From the early stages of Chrome OS, we’ve really only seen Chromebooks aim to meet (and sometimes exceed) existing hardware norms. Touchscreens, multi-touch trackpads, unique keyboards (Chrome OS’s keyboard does have set, special keys, after all) and folding designs are all things that other Windows OEMs and/or Apple are already doing. Granted, I prefer the cleanliness of the Chrome OS keyboard and the performance of Chromebook trackpads over almost all Windows devices, but none of these are real innovations.
A hover-enabled trackpad? That’s another story all together. We are looking at an entirely new input method that, for a time, might be unique to Chromebooks. The possibilities are very exciting!
What Google could be looking to do with this new input method is a complete guess at this point, but it’s still fun to know it’s coming and wonder a bit about what it will be used for.
And that’s what the comments are great for! Let us know what you think Google may be up to here. We look forward to the conversation.