On-screen keyboard goes live for Google Chrome OS

Posted by Trent Nouveau

Back in February, Google introduced its flagship Pixel device, a high-end $1,300 touch-screen Chromebook powered by a 1.8 GHz Intel Core i5 SoC. As previously discussed on TG Daily, The Pixel was greeted with enthusiasm by many in the industry, including none other than Linux founder Linus Torvalds.

"One thing that the Chromebook Pixel really brings home is how crap normal laptops have become. Why do PC manufacturers even bother any more?" the outspoken developer asked rhetorically in a March blog post.

"No wonder the PC business isn't doing well, when they stick to just churning out more crappy stuff and think that 'full HD' (aka 1080p) is somehow the epitome of greatness."

According to to Torvalds, the Pixel boasts a "beautiful" screen, to the point where he will be making the device his primary laptop.

Granted, there is still only one Chromebook on the market today - the Pixel - with a touchscreen. Nevertheless, Mountain View has added support for an on-screen keyboard to the most recent dev channel update of Chrome OS.

According to Google guru François Beaufort, the keyboard code can be activated by typing chrome://flags in a browser window and enabling the virtual 'board.

As Liliputing's Brad Linder notes, the keyboard is somewhat of a work in progress at this early stage, and doesn't take full advantage of the Chromebook Pixel's display. Nevertheless, it does faithfully pop up when you tap on a text input box, just like a keyboard would on your typical touchscreen device.

Right now, there doesn't seem to much of a reason to use an on-screen keyboard on the Pixel, as the device boasts a perfectly workable physical 'board. So it does seem rather likely that Mountain View is using the code to test future tablet-style devices, perhaps in slate, tablet or hybrid form factors.