Of the many things Chrome OS and the Chrome browser share, account switching is not one of them. That isn’t to say there aren’t similar behaviors between the two, but the way they handle moving from one account to another is a very different experience when sat side by side. For Chrome OS, you sign in with a profile (Google account) and can add other Google accounts inside that system-level log in for use with apps both on the web and via Android. That is how I operate and how most people get around on a Chromebook.
There are inherent limitations to this approach, however, since my personal Google account is logged in on my Chromebook, my Files app accesses my personal Google Drive, not my G Suite drive that is attached to my Chrome Unboxed account. My bookmarks and Chrome browser settings are my personal setup, not separated into personal and work. On Windows, Mac or Linux, however, this is handled quite differently.
On those operating systems, you log into Chrome and create user profiles. Multiple profiles can exist on one version of Chrome and be accessed at the same time, allowing for a nice separation of work and personal setups. You can even create desktop shortcuts to different profiles to keep things separated. My current workflow mixes all my bookmarks together since that is the primary profile I’m logged into my Chromebook with and I honestly envy the setup Windows, Linux and Mac users get with the ability to truly separate out their work/personal accounts in Chrome.
With all that in mind, these changes to the profile user flow won’t have any affect or be present on Chromebooks. With Chromebooks handling the profile switching on an OS level, this all works in a very different way and the new profile setup we’re about to see simply isn’t present at all on Chromebooks and may never be.
Now then, let’s take a look at the updated UI for adding profiles to Chrome in Windows, Linux and MacOS coming in Chrome 87 (currently in Canary) that was spotted by Techdows. There’s not really any new functionality going on here, but the interface looks very nice and is very clear when communicating what is going on for users new to the experience of adding multiple profiles to Chrome. Here’s the walk-through, step by step of what you’ll see in Chrome Canary after enabling the chrome://flags/#enable-new-profile-picker and chrome://flags/#enable-sign-in-profile-creation-flow flags.
First up, we have a refreshed, new log in screen where users are instructed to pick the profile they want to use and/or add a new profile to begin browsing with. Additionally, you can browse as a guest from here and choose whether you want to see this screen when Chrome is opened up each time. You’ll also see this selector when you click your profile picture in the top-right of Chrome and choose to add a new profile.
Next up, users are taken to the screen where they can name a new profile and, once it works, select a Google account to sync. For now, the ‘Turn on sync’ button doesn’t do anything, but you can log in and sync things after the initial setup.
If you choose not to log in and just want a fresh, local profile to use, you can add an avatar and a nickname here. Ideally this is where you could go ahead and choose a theme as well, but we’re not seeing that yet. There’s a large box under the name that is useless for now, but will likely be used for something down the road. Finally, you can go ahead and choose to create a quick desktop shortcut for this new profile from this screen.
Finally, you get to this colorful screen where you can get started or choose to log in and sync an existing Google account. Once synced up, all you usual Chrome settings and bookmarks will come along for the ride and this local profile will be tied to you cloud data.
Overall, the user flow update looks nice and is very clear in displaying and conveying the profile setup process. I’m not sure how many users take advantage of this feature in Chrome, but if you are currently not on a Chromebook and using Chrome, I’d highly recommend getting started with profiles if you leverage multiple Google accounts. It’s a very clean way to stay productive and keep you work from bleeding into you persona online time. Look for these new UI updates to hit sometime late in 2020 when Chrome 87 is scheduled to roll out.