Google starts tweaking Chrome for OS X Lion

Yanks full-screen button until it decides how to handle Apple's new feature

Google yesterday updated Chrome to work better in Apple's Lion, adding support for the operating system's default two-fingered page-swiping gesture.

Version 14.0.835.0 in Chrome's "dev" channel for the Mac now supports Lion's system-wide two-fingered swipe, one of the default gestures in OS X 10.7, which Apple shipped last week.

Google, like Mozilla, maintains multiple Chrome lines and lets users choose which version -- dev, beta or stable -- they want to run. The dev builds are the newest and most unstable.

Previously, Chrome supported a three-fingered swipe to the right or left on a Mac trackpad to move forward or backward, respectively, through previously-viewed pages. Lion, however, seized that gesture and assigned it as the command to move between full-screen applications, another new feature of OS X 10.7.

With the change, Chrome now mimics the behavior of the two-fingered gesture in Safari 5.1, the browser bundled with Lion.

Google's made other Lion-related modifications to Chrome, according to notes on the Chromium bug-tracking database.

As of Tuesday's dev build, for instance, Chrome's scrollbars conform to Apple's guidelines, and disappear when not in use.

But for now, Google developers have decided not to support Lion's full-screen mode. To reduce user confusion, they've removed the button at the upper-right corner of the app window that triggers full-screen.

"What we're going to do right now is remove the full-screen button so we don't advertise a behavior that we don't really implement," said one developer on the bug database last week.

The full-screen button does not appear in the dev build released Tuesday, or in the beta version shipped late last week.

"Long-term, we're going to implement a proper full-screen interface for Lion," the same developer wrote. "In this interface, we'll also experiment with having a collapsible toolbar. Until then, full-screen will operate as it does on Leopard/Snow Leopard."

Existing copies of Chrome's dev build will be updated automatically by Google's silent, in-the-background service. Others may download the dev edition from Google's website.

Swiping preferences
Users of Chrome 12 or 13 can restore three-fingered page swiping by changing the assigned gesture in 'Swipe between pages' and either unchecking or modifying 'Swipe between full-screen apps.'

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more articles by Gregg Keizer.

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