Although I love the new features of Chromebooks, I’m going to have to state publicly that I’m a bit disappointed with what this one is turning into. I’m not saying it won’t be a solid addition to ChromeOS or that many users won’t find it incredibly useful: it’s just not what I was hoping for. The feature in question is of course the ‘Glanceable’ widgets we’ve talked about a few times so far, and the disappointment is the fact that they’re not exactly desktop widgets as we know them from Android.
Say hello to the new “welcome screen”
Turns out the new widgets we’ve seen referenced in the Chromium repositories are widgets and they do what we thought they would, but they won’t live where we expected them to. Instead, they will be part of a new “welcome screen” that should appear in future versions of ChromeOS. You can activate the flag in the Canary Channel if you want, but with the pace of development of it, I’d recommend waiting a bit longer for it to arrive in Stable.
This welcome screen will greet users for the start of a new session or can also be toggled on and off via a button at the top of the introduction screen. All the widgets we talked about are there, including an agenda pulled from your calendar, a weather icon, a welcome message, and a screenshot of your last session that can be restored with a single click.
Everything is working right now (we’ve simulated your last session’s screenshot for the image shown at the top) and it seems a bit crazy that this new feature has come this far so quickly. Generally speaking, the whole thing is only about a month old. The option to restore your last session dates back a few months to another feature we tracked called “Floating Workspaces”. This feature is intended to allow you to restore your sessions between Chromebooks, and this new welcome screen may be where Google has chosen to exploit it.
As someone who typically leaves my Chromebook on and just closes the lid when I’m done, I don’t know at this point how many times I’ll be greeted with that new “welcome screen,” but I see the appeal. While I don’t want this to appear every time I walk away and approach my Chromebook again, I like the idea of being met first thing in the morning to see the weather, my schedule and have the ability to restore where I was the last time I left my Chromebook.
For those of you like me who would like more frequent access to this, however, there will be the button in the preview bar this also brings the new “welcome screen” back into view. As more useful things find their way into this new space, I could see myself using it more and more. Maybe at some point we’ll have some widget options to include, because I might see something like a simple Google News feed or Google Discover being great to have in that form.
For now, however, what you see is what you get, and I think for many users this “welcome screen” could prove very useful. I imagine students and employees who grab a Chromebook from a cart can log in, get their bearings for the day, and find a lot of value in the feature. We’re probably far from done with the ‘welcome screen’, so more features could arrive before it launches, and we’ll keep an eye on it until it does.
GOING THROUGH: 9to5Google