Touchscreen Chromebooks in tablet mode may soon get smoother, Android-like scrolling
Touchscreen-based Chromebooks may soon get smoother, Android-like scrolling when in tablet mode according to a commit on the Chromium Gerrit. Currently, touchscreen scrolling on Chromebooks in tablet mode is a terrible experience. Applications don’t “fling” like they do on Android devices. Movement stops when you lift your finger off of the screen. It doesn’t feel natural and heavier devices that require two hands to handle can be extremely awkward to navigate and use. There is even a bug report on the Chromium bug tracker about this issue.
With this new commit, should it be merged, we’ll see better scrolling make its way to a Canary build in the coming days. If there are no problems then we’ll see it in a stable branch in a few weeks time.
As you can see from the commit message, the fling behavior will be changed to match the same curve used by Android. This means that users will have a smoother and more fluid experience over what it was prior. Note that the commit has not been merged yet and there is potential for it to be postponed to a later date should any major issues arise as a result.
Google has been working to improve the user experience on Chrome OS for months, with touch optimisation commits first arriving in January of this year. They were definitely necessary on devices like the HP Chromebook X2 and Acer Chromebook 10 which rely heavily on touch input. Chromebooks in tablet mode are, in a lot of ways, basically Android devices. As such, it’s also possible to gain the equivalent of root access by entering developer mode. There’s a lot of things you can do with a Chromebook now that wasn’t possible a year ago, and with more and more touchscreen-based devices on the way, it’s not a surprise that the optimisations keep coming.
This isn’t the first Android influenced addition brought to Chromebooks in recent months, nor is it the first touchscreen improvement. Changes like the fullscreen Android-inspired launcher, Chrome’s touchable UI, and split-screen mode go a long way in improving the experience. Chrome OS is getting bigger and better with new features and improvements every day, and maybe now Google is starting to focus on the user experience aspect and bug fixing. We’ll see what direction Google takes in the upcoming weeks, but one thing is for sure – Chrome OS, especially on touchscreen Chromebooks, is getting a whole lot better.