Google is testing a new Chrome OS launcher that looks like some of the previous Chrome OS launchers to see if it increases productivity. The test was discovered by the people of ChromeStory by delving into Canary versions of the operating system.
The experimental flag and its description read:
Productivity test: Application launcher: Evaluate an enhanced Launcher experience that aims to improve app workflows by optimizing access to apps, app content, and app actions.
As you can see from the screenshot, it’s not very usable at the moment. While it works for launching and organizing your apps, some parts are still broken and full of placeholder text. Something is to be expected in the Canaries, however.
Google’s current launcher, or the Peeking Launcher as it’s technically known, appeared as part of Google’s push into touch devices. It works well on the laptops and convertibles that make up some of the best Chromebooks, and Google took inspiration from it to come up with a more tablet-optimized design as well.
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It looks a lot like the Windows 8 Start menu, but without the live tiles. Much like Microsoft did, maybe Google is now thinking that a smaller launcher may make more sense on some devices, especially Chromeboxes and larger laptops like the Acer 317.
That being said, this is a first test of an experimental feature in an experimental version of Chrome OS, the opposite of a sure thing. Google may well decide to abandon it today, but it remains an interesting idea anyway.