Google Chrome Browser on Chrome OS May Soon be Better Optimized for Touch
Throughout 2017, Google significantly expanded the capabilities of its Chrome OS operating system, implementing support for Android applications, streamlining the interface, and adding other features. One aspect that received an outsized amount of Google’s attention was the platform’s touchscreen capabilities, which isn’t surprising given the increasing popularity of 2-in-1 devices. Oddly enough, though, the Chrome web browser on Chrome OS doesn’t offer particularly robust touchscreen support, but a new commit shows that it’s being worked on.
The new commit we discovered suggests that Google intends to optimize Chrome for touch input on Chrome OS. There’s talk in the comments of the commit of it being limited to Chrome OS, at least for now, and it bears the if statement #if defined(OS_CHROMEOS)). So if Google were to decide to make this limited to Chrome OS, they would have to “litter the code” of Chrome with it. That indicates the commit is rather drastic and could completely change the way Chrome feels when using touch inputs on a tablet or PC.
Chrome OS was originally designed for inexpensive, low-power laptops. Over time, it’s expanded to devices like mini PCs and 2-in-1 tablet/laptop combo devices. Each time it comes to a new form factor, it’s not uncommon to see commits that show the work Google’s done to take advantage of the new hardware. In August 2017, for example, the search giant made pen input behave like traditional touch input in Chrome OS. A couple months later, Google added a commit for a floating software keyboard.
Recent major changes have generally improved Chrome OS’s useability on laptop/tablet combo devices, and a couple of companies have adopted the OS for their upcoming devices as a result. While this main commit has been merged, the additional commits for what the changes will actually look like haven’t been merged yet.