If you need any proof that Google does, in fact, listen to customers, this particular reversal shows that is at least the case when it comes to Chrome OS software decisions. This seems like a small change and it is. To be honest, it is an issue that simply never should have been an issue to begin with, but it quickly angered and aggravated quite a few users when the change was made. The bigger problem was the initial pushback from developers pointing to a complete lack of resolution and a firm opinion that users were simply wrong.
What are we talking about? Hiding your shelf in tablet mode on Chromebook Tablets.
I told you it was a pretty small thing. However, it is a small thing with some pretty big ramifications. Developers made the choice to remove users’ ability to auto-hide the shelf when in tablet mode while also removing the ability to reposition it.
In desktop mode, this is less of a hassle. But in tablet mode, a shelf constantly on the bottom of the screen can really turn into a headache. For those using tablet mode and pen input, this is particularly frustrating. While the note-taking app may be great at palm rejection, your Chrome OS shelf is not. Not even a little bit.
When this change happened, many users were aggravated and voiced their opinions in the bug tracker. Instead of being met with listening ears, however, consumers were basically told “this is how it is now. Period.”
Of course, that didn’t make anyone feel any better, so the threads continued and grew and multiplied. If you check out the main thread for this issue now, you can see tons of merged threads right at the top that were painstakingly put together. Google heard and it seems they are finally changing their mind on this.
Kevin over at About Chromebooks pointed out that at the very bottom of that thread, you can now see that they’ve reversed course at least on the auto-hide shelf settings. Users in the Developer Channel can enable auto-hide and simply swipe up when they want or need the shelf to be visible. We should see this trickle down to Stable Channel soon enough.
Why This Is Important
Look, at the end of the day this isn’t really the biggest issue in the world, is it? Sure, for a segment of users, this was a massive headache and maybe a reason to not rely on Chromebooks for certain tasks.
The importance here doesn’t really come from the size of this issue. Instead, it lies in the change of course for Google on an issue they’d seemingly put to bed.
In the developer’s minds, they made a change and that was that. But, with enough outcry and frustration, they changed their mind and reversed course. This simple act should give users two things: confidence in the developers and confidence in Chrome OS bug reporting. Both of these things simply get forgotten by most. Users routinely forget that the OS they use is made by people making decisions every day. They forget that those people, while incredibly skilled, are still just people. They will mess up from time to time and make questionable decisions, but that doesn’t mean they can’t back up and change their minds.
And the best way for that to happen is for users to get comfortable with reporting bugs when they see them. A simply ALT + SHIFT + I brings up the bug reporter. The more users do this and submit feedback or star issues in the bug reporter when tech blogs or social media bring them to light, the better our favorite OS gets over time.
So, for everyone out there who voiced their opinion: well done. Continue participating. Continue helping out. If you’ve never sumbitted a bug or starred one we’ve reported on, do so next time. It all helps and we can tell from this latest change to Chrome OS, you really can make a difference.