2-in-1 Chromebooks have been around for a number of years and are becoming increasingly popular as Chromebooks now also get support for touch-based Android apps. But with a convertible Chromebook, it was not as easy as using a tablet. Part of it was the fact that you still have a laptop, but most of it was the user interface.
Now both problems are solved effectively. Chrome tablets and Removable are available, and Chrome OS 70 has a much more manageable interface.
RELATED: How Google Turns Chrome OS into a Powerful Tablet Operating System
The first change that users will notice is the new Launcher: flip your keyboard around, and all your icons and folders are arranged in a grid. You'll quickly have shortcuts to your favorite apps and recent web pages above, and you can rearrange the icons by holding them down. There is no "desktop" in tablet mode: Tap the Home button or swipe the bottom shelf to open this app drawer.
When you tap the multitasking button in the lower-right corner, all open apps and browsers are called Windows, and you can only close them by swiping them. You can also drag and drop an open window to the left or right side to use the apps in split screen mode. Split screen mode gives you a bar between apps. Swipe over this bar and change how much space each app occupies on the screen.
Next comes the quick settings menu. It looks very much like Android's fast settings: it gives you easy-to-use switches for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other settings. Notifications are stored like on your smartphone and can be removed to eliminate clutter.
The actual Chrome browser is the same as in laptop mode or with the Chrome browser on any desktop computer. But Google has recently changed the browser on all these platforms to make it easier to tap bookmarks, make it easier to grab and move tabs, and add other touch-friendly enhancements. When you tap the address bar or other text box, the software keyboard automatically opens so you do not have to turn your physical keyboard back.
Speaking of the software keyboard, it also has some great improvements. You can scale down the keyboard and then drag to see more of what's on your screen. Glide input is on board and works well with the included pen on some Chromebooks.
What Still Works
The Android application layer is still based on Android 7.0 Nougat, which means that you can not use some of the API improvements of Android 8 or 9 for a trackpad and a physical keyboard with it Android 8 was rolled out. Chrome OS should switch to Android 9 in the next releases, so hopefully we will not have to wait long.
While the improvements to the software keyboard are welcome, this is still not the same as Gboard, which is available on Android devices. This means you can not change the keyboard design, search for GIFs, or do a Google search directly from the keyboard. Google also wants to add Gboard to the Chrome OS. We are not sure when this will happen.
Get the Update
If your Chromebook has not been updated yet, you can update it manually by opening the App Settings. Open the menu on the left, then select "About Chrome OS."
Select "Check for updates" and have the Chromebook download the update. When it's done, just choose "Reboot to refresh." Log in again and you are golden!