As we do around Chrome Unboxed, we have tons of devices hanging out in just about every channel at any given moment. A handful on Stable, a couple in Beta, quite a few in the Dev Channel, and usually Gabriel’s device in Canary help us stay abreast of the new changes and fun surprises coming down the road.
Today’s change hasn’t really been mentioned anywhere and it is so slight and simple that many may not even notice it right off the bat, but it has significantly changed the way I navigate the settings on my Chromebook.
In general, if you open the settings app on a Chromebook, you get all the settings in one long list that can be navigated section-by-section with a flyout menu that appears when clicking the hamburger icon on the upper left. It works fine and I’ve never really thought much about it, but the change that is coming in Chrome OS 76 makes getting around the growing settings app much easier.
In the Developer Channel (Chrome OS 76) right now, when you open up the settings app on just about any size screen, the individual settings are now persistent in a sidebar on the left instead of being hidden behind a button. Again, this is a small and subtle change, but I’ve already found that getting around the settings to adjust things like displays, Bluetooth, Wifi, Linux Apps, Android apps and any other major setting you need becomes much faster and easier to do with this layout.
I was testing out a few things this week with Linux apps and GPU acceleration and found myself moving around settings quite a bit. After navigating with the new sidebar, going back to the Stable Channel made the settings feel clunky and much more difficult to navigate.
I love seeing small changes like this in Chrome OS as the developers continue to fully refine and flesh out things that may not be quite as flashy as Virtual Desktops or tablet mode UI tweaks. Simple changes like these can make overall user experiences better without needing to take center stage as a big new feature, but make no mistake: the benefit of these small tweaks can be truly great and this latest settings change definitely is that.