Chromebook

Chromebooks get “immersive mode” and smarter launcher

Chromebooks are now making it a little easier to tune out distractions and get right to the Web apps you’re looking for.

A new “immersive mode,” added to the latest stable version of Chrome OS, replaces the old “full screen” view, and it’s a major improvement. Now, going full screen hides the taskbar, tab bar and all other menu elements, but they pop back up again when you drag your cursor to the top or bottom of the screen.

In previous versions of Chrome OS—and in current versions of Chrome for Windows and Mac—full screen mode didn’t provide any way to switch between tabs or apps. If you simply wanted to check an e-mail or reference another document, you had to exit full screen, switch tabs, then go back to full screen again.

With immersive mode, it’s a lot easier to just stay in full screen the entire time. Hopefully Google can bring some aspects of this feature—at least the ability to make your tabs and menu pop up while in full screen—to Chrome for Windows and Mac.

Google also made some minor improvements to the app launcher in Chrome OS. Users can now drag-and-drop Web apps from the launcher to the taskbar. When searching for an app you already have, it’ll appear more prominently in search results, and if you don’t have it, the launcher now shows a link to the Chrome Web Store.

The goal, it seems, is to get Chromebook users to install more apps, such as the new packaged apps that work offline. To that end, it’d be nice if Google would add folders to the app launcher. Otherwise, the launcher can easily become an unwieldy mess.

Other improvements in this update include syncing of wallpaper selection across all devices and monitor scaling, which is similar to the screen resolution options in Windows.

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