The video shows off a redesigned desktop for Chrome OS that introduces an Android-like app drawer and search bar. The new elements sit on top of the traditional task bar, so using a Chromebook with trackpad and keyboard won’t change. But if you’re using a touchscreen, you’ll be able to tap right into a Google search box or swipe up to access a grid displaying all of your apps. Five “suggested apps” will also appear in a dock, making them even quicker to launch.
This redesigned desktop is already live in Chrome OS’s “canary” channel, which is a pre-beta release that’s often quite buggy because of its still-in-development nature. That means you can try out this redesign if you want to; but if you use your Chromebook as your main computer, it’d be a very good idea to hold off and wait for Google to polish up both this feature’s implementation and its code.
The update is probably the biggest design change that Google has made yet in support of touchscreens. Last year, the company added a “hybrid” mode that spaced buttons out a little bit more so that they were easier to tap. But it was still very clearly an OS that was designed for use with a mouse. Google’s work on a new desktop shows it’s interested in really starting to change that, which makes sense, given the recent (sort of) arrival of Android apps to the platform.