I forgot I had an app launcher on my Chromebook and here’s why

I can’t tell you when was the last time I used my Chromebook’s app launcher to launch an app. I mean, that’s not quite true. I use it to search for an app by typing and then tapping the result to open standalone PWAs, but what I really mean is I have no idea when was the last time I scrolled through the list of apps to find manually selecting one, and I have several reasons for that.

First and foremost, I’ve lived in Canary mode for much of my ChromeOS life, so I’ve trained myself not to rely on something that’s always going through changes or that’s consistently broken, and the launcher qualifies as all of these pretty much often in recent years.

Second, and probably more importantly, app syncing in the launcher has been laughably unreliable for longer than I can remember. I’ve written quite a bit about this in the past, especially when I gave my wish list of essential changes needed to be worth using. While I’m happy to report that many things from that list have already been taken and implemented as feedback thanks to the development team, the damage is already done. In true Google fashion, the launcher itself has been so unreliable for so long that I’ve trained myself to avoid it at all costs for visual selection.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the launcher is an essential part of Google’s operating system and makes it stand out from the crowd. It’s a unique feature that allows users to store and access a seemingly infinite number of website icons (web apps) in a standalone way, instead of constantly typing URLs or visiting websites through Chrome tabs in the main browser with other things, so it feels very personal and the experiences feel more enclosed. I also like the idea of ​​collecting and organizing app icons so that my Chromebook really feels like it belongs to me instead of just being a device I signed into the library and clicked on the Chrome browser to start a Google search. App icons give that “Windows program list” feeling if you know what I mean.

However, whenever I move an icon to a different folder or location in the launcher, or even every time I delete a handful of old PWAs from the list, they immediately reappear after I restart my Chromebook. I thought this would be fixed when the company finally released its Productivity Launcher, but I think I’m mistaken in thinking that the performance and experience issues would be solved when it came to re-creating the whole thing at its core. to review – an opportunity Google had recently when it built this from the ground up!

The productivity launcher is more functional and beautiful than its predecessor, the Peaking Launcher, but if it’s just as flaky at performing the core functionality it was built for, I think I’ll keep looking for what I have there and launch it blind. Again, searching is faster and has even become second nature to my use of Chromebooks, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that I’m constantly haunted by icons that keep rising from the dead and cram the top of my launcher. .

I’m afraid Google will do what Google always does and focus more on the visual aspect of decorating things and completely ignore what everyone hated about them from the start. It’s known for launching things half-baked and then implementing user feedback to make the experience passable over the next 5-10 years, but when it comes to the bread and butter of the Chromebook, I hope it’s no longer the trend.

So far, the only time I’ve ever used my Chromebook launcher is from a visual “pick-an-app-icon-and-touch-it” standpoint, as opposed to quick search and hitting the enter key on my keyboard, when I’m using my Lenovo Chromebook Duet in tablet mode. That’s because it makes a lot of sense to have icons for a touch experience. For this reason, I don’t think Google should completely remove the launcher, but I do believe it has a responsibility to its users to fix this sync issue. If it doesn’t, and I don’t really believe it will see it as a prominent annoyance for years, then I will continue to ignore it, which is just a shame.

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