If Chrome OS Tablet Mode Lag Has You Down, Google Has A Fix On The Way

Devices running Google‘s Chrome OS have quickly gained traction in the marketplace, and have become staples in the classroom thanks to easy device management and low cost of entry. Despite its rising fame, there are still a few areas where Chrome OS could use a bit more polish, one of which involves performance in tablet mode.

This laggy performance has even been noticeable in Google’s own first-party hardware — namely the recently released Pixel Slate. Many reviews of the devices lamented the poor performance in tablet mode, while these same issues were non-existent in its traditional “laptop” mode. Although Chrome OS was designed from the outset for laptop operation, there really is no reason for performance to suffer so greatly in tablet mode — or is there?

google pixel slate keyboard

According to a relatively recent bug tracker uncovered by ChromeUnboxed, we’ve learned just what exactly is causing the performance bottleneck and that Google is actively working on a solution. Interestingly enough, it all comes down to how rounded corners in the OS are rendered in Overview Mode:

The bug tracker states:

A lot of animation jank seems to be coming from the use of Mask Layers to create rounded corners. This combined with background blur adds a lot of additional steps in the paint/rendering pipeline. The performance (fps increase) and memory improvement (tiles [don’t] get discarded and we actually see the content) is quite significant on Nocturne Celeron when rounded corners are removed.

ChromeUnboxed goes on to state that this lack of optimization leads many people to have a poor impression of Google’s Pixel Slate hardware, when in fact the hardware is fully up to the task of providing a smooth UI experience:

But, for a tablet, that overview mode is a central part of the UI, and that is a problem. When you buy it, you buy a tablet and add accessories to make it more than that. As a tablet, the drag to overview gesture is central to navigating the device and, if it is poorly done (which it is, currently), gives off the impression that the device is slow and poorly optimized.

The big question now is when will this “fix” be put into place? The bug currently has a rather high priority level within Google and could be in place for Chrome OS version 73.