Sunday, December 12, 2010

ChromeOS Keyboard

getOne of the hardware aspects of ChromeOS that may find it's way onto all devices is the keyboard. There are a few noticeable differences between a standard Windows keyboard and the keyboard on ChromeOS. The major differences are:

  • No Function Keys (F1 - F11)
  • No dedicated Home, End or Delete Key
  • No Caps Lock
What Google has done is given a reference to what a keyboard on a computer built for the web might look like. In place of the typical function keys Google has added a row of keys each dedicated to a function of the netbook. They have keys for:
  • Navigate Forward/Back (2 keys)
  • Refresh
  • Full Screen
  • Switch Windows (Same as Alt + Tab which also works)
  • Brightness Up/Down (2 keys)
  • Volume Mute, Up/Down (3 keys)
  • Power
Perhaps the one thing about the keyboard that makes it seem like a web based OS is the key map overlay you can display to figure out all of the alternate key options. Home, End, Delete, Print Screen and other options are all available, if you know the right keystrokes.  The map helps you to learn them all, and reminds me of the Google web apps which often feature a way to list keyboard shortcuts as an overlay.

Easy to figure out what different key combinations do.
I am quite fond of the new keyboard. Once I figured out how to do the Home, End and Delete key functions I was much happier. Having quick dedicated keys for full screen and search are very handy. Since I have all of my apps on the new tab screen, which is displayed when I press the search button, I can easily launch into new apps or do a search. That does bring me to one feature request for Chrome. It would be great if Apps were indexed and launchable from the Omnibar. Since apps are really just URL's this sort of works already, but I would love to see them show up in the omnibar results, by name with a unique icon. I don't think that the average user will have a difficult time adjusting to this new keyboard. Google will need to be sure to include the shortcut to display the overlay (Ctrl+Alt+/) front and center in the documentation so that people can find those keystrokes to the commands they are used to seeing.

As to the lack of CAPSLOCK? Good riddance.

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