It’s been years since Google overhauled the app drawer for Chromebooks. It replaced the aging “card” launcher with a touch-focused launcher, which bore a striking resemblance to Apple’s Launchpad for macOS. While it did improve usability in touchscreen Chromebooks, the experience with the mouse is largely unappealing. Worse, the launcher feels slippery and unpolished, even on a tablet – Google is testing some fixes to fix this. Your mouse woes may soon be over, however, as Google is testing a completely redesigned launcher that is more mouse friendly.
chrome story recently revealed a new launcher in development that aims to optimize access to apps, app content and app actions. If you’ve been living dangerously on the Canary channel, you can try the new launcher right now by copying and pasting the new launcher into Chrome’s address bar:
To evaluate an enhanced Launcher experience that aims to improve app workflow by optimizing access to apps, app content, and app actions. – Chrome OS
After pressing the Launcher button on the taskbar, you will see a brand new UI.
Redesigned Chrome OS Launcher.
The new launcher is reminiscent of the “card” design Found in earlier versions of Chrome OS. Its compact design doesn’t obscure the entire screen like the UI used today, instead taking up space on the left side of the screen. The launcher’s 4×5 grid scrolls vertically like Pixel Launcher, and now moves much more smoothly. The tablet will still have the old app drawer, even with Flags enabled – which is totally understandable given its touch-centric UI.
The lack of placeholder text, broken search, and Google Assistant are a reminder that the new launcher is still in its development. Even in its unfinished state, the new UI looks good. This solves a major usability gripe I have with today’s Chrome OS Launcher when using a mouse or trackpad – this design is intended to solve that.
It will take some time before the revamped launcher comes to everyone on the Chrome OS Stable channel, but I’m excited about where Google is going with this experiment. It may finally get serious about building a capable app launcher — here’s hoping Google will finally allow us to sort apps alphabetically in the not-too-distant future.
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