[Update: Live on Canary] Chromebook Files app getting revamped to better organize Android and Linux apps

[Update: Live on Canary] Chromebook Files app getting revamped to better organize Android and Linux apps

Update 7/16: The revamped UI shown in this article is now live on the Canary channel. It was announced today by François Beaufort on Google+.

Chrome OS has got a ton of love from Google lately. We’re seeing the OS gain native support for Linux apps starting with the Google Pixelbook and the Samsung Chromebook Plus, and possibly the upcoming Acer Chromebook 13 and Acer Chromebook Spin 13. The interface is also receiving touch optimizations for tablets and detachables like the HP Chromebook X2 and Acer Chromebook Tab 10. Then there’s the Google Material Theme revamp that’s in testing. Now, it seems that the Chromebook Files app will be getting some major structural changes to help users keep track of all their Downloads, Google Drive files, Android apps, Linux apps, and more.

That’s according to a new commit which surfaced in the Chromium Gerrit last week. The commit mentions that Google is changing the Files app to include a new “My Files” pane which includes a list of VolumeEntry for Downloads, Linux files, and Google Play Files.

Chromebook Files App Revamp

The commit description links to a currently public design document that outlines the upcoming changes in great detail. Here’s what we know so far.

How it looks

If you can’t see the feature image at the top of this page all that well, here’s a better view of the differences between the old Chromebook Files app and the new Files app with the “My Files” design.

Chromebook Files App

As you can see, the new navigation style is much more organized. The Downloads, Play files, and Linux files are all listed under “My files” which can be collapsed. Google Drive files are listed separately as well. For another comparison, here’s what the Files app looks like on a Chromebook (Google Pixelbook) with Linux apps and the show-android-files-in-files-app flag enabled.

Chrome OS Android Files

Credits: /u/InauspiciousPagan

Google says that the feature will only change the UI and won’t impact the speed, security, or privacy for Chromebook users. Those are the three most important reasons to own a Chrome OS device, so it’s important that any new changes don’t leave any negative impacts.

When it’s coming

According to the design document, there’s still a lot of work to be done before it’s ready. For instance, the team still needs to implement the “recents” view, “shortcuts,” support for nested roots under “My Files,” external media and ZIP sections, Google Drive and third-party cloud storage sections, and more.

A new flag titled “new-files-app-navigation” will enable the new UI during testing. This flag will be enabled by default in Google Chrome version 69, which is expected to reach stable in September of this year.

What’s coming in future releases

A second design document outlines what’s next for the Chromebook Files app revamp. Here’s a summary:

  • Google says that full search across all volumes in “My Files” will be available in a future release.
  • Dragging and dropping between Downloads, Linux Files, and Android Files will be supported however creating, moving, and deleting within “My Files” children isn’t currently supported.
  • Google will allow users to create directories above “Downloads.”
  • Multiple Google Drive profiles will be supported

We’ll keep an eye out for when this revamp goes live and will keep you all updated on its progress. Stay tuned for more coverage on Project Crostini (Linux apps on Chrome OS), ARC++ (Android apps on Chrome OS), and all other Chrome OS news!

Thanks Vinu for the tip!

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