Give your Chrome OS interface an instant upgrade

Google’s Chrome OS software is constantly evolving. And for the tinkering tech nerds among us, that means there’s always an opportunity to find and embrace something new – often long before it’s officially released and available to the masses.

Well, gang, we’ve got quite the tasty treat to tinker with today. This is a massive update that Google has been preparing for its Chromebook app launcher for some time, and it will bring a significant change not only to how your device looks, but also how you use it.

New Chrome OS launcher design is under development since this summer. So far, however, the work has mostly taken place in the upper-tier and less stable Chrome OS channels, where regular Chromebook users rarely dare to venture.

But no more: the revamped and improved Chromebook app setup is now available in the standard Chrome OS stable channel – and while you still have to make a tiny a little digging to find out, it’s not at all difficult to manage.

So don your dumbest spelunker hat and get ready to experience the Chromebook interface of the future – available for you to experience down to the minute, if you know where to look.

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Meet the Chrome OS Productivity Launcher

Agree – already enough accumulation. Here it is: the new Chrome OS Productivity Launcher, as that fancy new interface is currently known within Google.

Chrome OS Interface: Productivity Launcher J.R.

(Click on the image to enlarge.)

Sound familiar? If you’ve been living the Chromebook life for a long time, this should: In a rather hilarious twist, the recently scaled-down Chrome OS app launcher actually looks like original Chrome OS launcher setup years ago. Yes indeed, it’s Yet Another Google 360™. Flip, flop, flippidy flop.

What’s more, the new Chromebook Productivity Launcher is unmistakably similar in basic structure to Windows 10’s Start menu layout – although ironically enough, if Google were aiming at any level for familiarity in another bid to win over businesses dependent on Windows, Microsoft is now on the move a way of this design from its Windows 11 update.

But you know what? All fun indecision and belated emulation aside, using the new Chrome OS launch interface really feels like a practical improvement in the context of the Chromebook environment. The full-screen app drawer layout that Chromebooks have used for years certainly makes sense on Android, where most of us work with a phone-sized screen. In this area, seeing all of your apps together in this full-screen view is the most efficient way to browse and find what you need.

On a Chromebook, however, the larger nature of the display makes that full-screen interface a little less than optimal. Visually, this forces you to scan a large area to find the item you’re looking for. And the separate page setup means you often have to scroll somewhat awkwardly from page to page to browse the available options – an effect made worse by the traditional Chrome OS launcher’s annoying habit of leaving lots of space. blank in the app grid and offering no easy way to automatically arrange your icons and bring them together.

In the updated Chrome OS Productivity Launcher, it’s all here – brought together and presented in a window that takes up just a fraction of your screen. You can scroll through your list of apps continuously, without any focus paging, and when you drag and drop an app to a new position, your Chromebook automatically rearranges everything else to fill the space. Alleluia!

The new Chrome OS launcher also delivers on the promise of Google’s newly renamed All button. That, in case you can’t keep up with the carousel of endless Google name changes, is the button formerly known as the search key or the launch key – you know, the one that goes where Caps Lock would live on a more traditional computer.

True to its name, the Everything button really lets you do just about anything on your Chromebook in this new launcher setup. Along with showing you all of your installed apps, it opens a prompt where you can type anything you can think of to search for apps, browse your local device storage, find a Chrome OS setting, search for a Google Doc, or other Drive files, search the web, and even interact with the Assistant (!). And as you type, the list of suggested results gets narrower with each new letter.

Chrome OS Interface: Productivity Launcher (Search) J.R.

(Click on the image to enlarge.)

Not too shabby, right? So let’s get ready to try this beauty for yourself – just a flick of a few quick switches that couldn’t be much easier.

The Chromebook Launcher Upgrade in Five Steps

No exaggeration: switching to the new Chrome OS Productivity Launcher will only take you 20 seconds. There’s no real risk involved, and if you decide you don’t like it, it’ll take you another 20 seconds to roll back (for now, at least – chances are that Google will publish to everyone and make it the default Chromebook configuration at some point in the not too distant future).

Here’s all you have to do:

  1. Open a new Chrome browser window on your Chromebook and type chrome:flags in the address bar.
  2. Type launcher in the search field at the top of the screen that appears.
  3. See the line that says “Productivity Test: App Launcher”? Click the box next to it and change it from “Default” to “Enabled”.
  4. Next, find the line labeled “Launcher Categorical Search” and make the same change there.
  5. Now click the blue Restart button in the lower right corner of the screen and let yourself stun in anticipation.

In a few seconds, your Chromebook will reboot — and once it does, you can just click the circle icon in its bottom-right corner or tap the All button mentioned above to explore your new Chromebook setup. stylish information search.

Just note that the configuration is still a work in progress, so you’re bound to encounter occasional imperfections at this point. It’s also optimized primarily for the desktop side of things at the moment, so if you’re using your Chromebook in its tablet state, don’t expect to see anything earth-shattering just yet.

The new launcher is available in the stable Chrome OS 94 channel, which should be on the vast majority of current Chromebooks right now, as well as the newer and still rolling Chrome OS 96 update (which, of confusingly, is the version that comes immediately after Chrome OS 94 – it’s a long story).

The experience is a bit more polished on the latter side, unsurprisingly, but it’s still fairly usable and stable even on this earlier version – with the only major quirk I encountered being a problem with the app folder functionality. appropriate.

Oh, and what about the clearer pattern you may have noticed in the launch and shelf areas of my screenshots? This is another hidden Chrome OS flag that you can turn on, if you’re so inspired. (Consider it a bonus for reading this far into the story!) Just go back to the same flag area from a minute ago and search dark light to find it.

Combined together, these updated elements will give you a refreshing, lightweight, and streamlined new Chrome OS experience with plenty of practical benefits. It’s a nice little upgrade, overall – and best of all, it’s one you can afford without spending a single penny or exerting even an ounce of unnecessary energy.

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