At this point, it’s pretty easy to declare that the Android tablet is dead. Though companies such as Huawei and TCL are still releasing new Android tablets, most of the focus is shifting towards upcoming tablets running Google’s Chrome OS. No Chrome OS tablet has been officially announced yet, but we know they’re coming. An unannounced Acer tablet running Chrome OS was spotted earlier this year, so it’s only a matter of time before these devices are made public.
Unannounced Acer Chrome OS Tablet
While we salivate over the thought of Chrome OS tablets and their access to Android apps, there’s one application in particular that, in my opinion, is holding back Chrome OS on tablets. Ironically, it’s Google Chrome itself. The world’s most popular web browser was designed for desktop computers first, but it also has several mobile clients available for it. Chrome OS is centered around the Chrome web browser, so if the Google Chrome browser on Chrome OS isn’t optimized for tablets, it would make for a pretty poor user experience.
Thankfully, we learned earlier this year that Google has anticipated the need for a touch optimized redesign of Chrome, so they started work on a project called ‘Touchable Chrome.’ It does exactly what you think—make desktop Google Chrome better optimized for touch. Although much of the implementation is still in the works, part of Touchable Chrome is now accessible on Linux and Chrome OS.
A new commit allows for users to enable the new touch optimized version of Google Chrome’s top bar, so I fired up the latest Chromium nightly and took it for a spin. Here’s what that looks like:
When you enable the flag, the most obvious changes are that the tabs become larger and the close tab buttons as well as the new tab button are more prominent. This flag only affects the top bar for now, but an additional change is coming that will make the bookmark bar better optimized for touch.
This flag will be available on all versions of desktop Chrome, though it has been disabled on Windows and MacOS as the implementation is still in the works. If you want to enable it, enter
chrome://flags#top-chrome-md into the address bar and select “touch” from the dropdown menu.
We’ll be following the progress of Google Chrome’s redesign for tablets and inform you of any important news regarding Chrome OS tablets. Stay tuned!