Chromebooks may soon borrow Windows 11’s best feature

In the near future, Chromebooks could borrow one of the best multitasking features from Windows. Currently, Chrome OS users may feel a bit envious of Windows 11’s robust split-screen menu that allows for vertical, horizontal, three-way, and four-way splits.

A recent developer flag suggests that Google is at least exploring the possibility of adding more versatile instant splitters.

Chrome OS is already capable of running multiple apps and browser tabs at once. In fact, it’s quite flexible, with many Chromebooks having the ability to install and run Android and Linux apps alongside Chrome apps. A side-by-side vertical split screen is already possible on a Chromebook, but it’s often more productive to have a larger window, like the one-third and two-thirds split that appears to be in testing.

This option doesn’t work yet, but proof of work in progress can be seen in the Chrome OS Dev Channel by looking for a flag called Partial split. A short description reads: “Enables the option to align two windows in 2/3 and 1/3 for a split view.”

A dive into the Chromium code by About Chromebooks uncovered clues as to how the feature might work. Apparently, the Maximize button at the top right of each window could be used to invoke the new partial split-screen mode. Holding down the Maximize button is already the way to activate a two-way split, so it makes sense that Google would add new windowing options in the same control. Chrome OS also allows Alt-[ and Alt-] to resize and move a window left and right and it seems likely that hotkeys will be added for the partial split feature if approved for the Stable channel.

Snap Assist offers the choice to open a captured window or group.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

While the new feature sounds intriguing, most people should stay on the Stable or Beta channels because the Dev channel is much more likely to have unexpected issues that make it difficult to use a Chromebook. The Stable channel is currently at Chrome OS 103, while the Dev channel is at 105.

As one of the easiest computers in the world to use, it doesn’t make sense to risk making a Chromebook unstable or unfriendly.

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