New screenshots recently posted on Reddit suggest Google may be working on bringing Android 10’s gesture navigation to Chrome OS tablets. According to screenshots posted by developer u/Hupro, Chrome OS 79 features a #shelf-hotseat flag (
chrome://flags/#shelf-hotseat) that enables a ‘modular shelf’ with an Android-like gesture navigation bar at the bottom. It currently does nothing, but shows that Google might still be working on a new UI for Chrome OS tablets.
According to the Redditor, the aforementioned #shelf-hotseat flag, which enables the (unfinished) new tablet mode, also reduces the shelf size and app icons, replacing the #shelf-dense-clamshell flag that was thus far used for the purpose. According to reports, once the shelf is hidden with the ‘Autohide Shelf’ option, swiping up from the gesture bar will open the app launcher view, but that is already available in current builds of the Chrome OS.
A little bit of research from 9to5Google threw up enough indications within the Chromium codebase to confirm that Google is actually working on new, gesture-based navigational interface. As can be seen from the Chromium Gerrit, unlike Chrome OS laptops, which offer gesture navigation via ‘overscroll’ (scrolling beyond the edge of the page), the tablet version will ‘reserve’ the first 16 pixels on the left side of the screen for gestures.
The tablet gestures, however, will apparently be more similar to the current Chrome OS gestures for end-users in terms of its UI elements. Just like current Chrome devices, the new tablet UI will also apparently have three core gestures to start off with – Back, Overview and Home, the last of which is referred to as ‘Homerview’ within the Chromium codebase.