Users who want to utilize Android drawing apps without issue on their Chromebooks are going to want to avoid the current Dev or Beta Channel update, for now. That’s based on recent reports highlighting a serious bug introduced to Chrome OS on both channels. For clarity, most users will already be on the Stable Channel. So this bug won’t affect them. But Android apps in the buggier channels are effectively broken.
What’s the issue with Beta and Dev Channels for Chromebooks?
Now, the problem appears to come back to uniform app scaling. In effect, the system is being reworked to push apps up to 25-percent larger on Chrome OS gadgets. That should, in theory, fix touch and readability issues with Android apps on Chromebooks but the issue prevents that from working right now in the Beta or Dev Channels for apps associated with drawing or handwriting.
Instead, the scaling is creating a serious discrepancy in how touch interactions work. At the very least, based on the aforementioned reports, in apps that use pens. But potentially in other apps as well. When using a pen — or potentially a touch — interaction, the touch zone is not performing actions at the point of contact.
The resulting effect is that drawings show lines that are offset from where the pen touches the display. It’s not immediately clear if that’s happening with other, general touches too. But if it is, then the result would be the screen responding to touches inappropriately. For instance, a user might select one option in an Android app, only to have the firmware behind the display react as though they’d touched somewhere else instead.
Adding to frustrations, uniform app scaling can’t be turned off. There’s simply no option for that in the Settings.
Is there any way around this?
Now, resetting and power-washing Chromebooks away from the Dev or Beta Channels — back to factory settings and the Stable Channel — will fix the issue. But that wipes the entire Chromebook. For now, there are only two workarounds and they aren’t necessarily going to be ideal. Especially since the easiest fix needs to be performed at every login.
The first workaround is the easiest and will be most widely used, for those on these channels since the other requires input on the Chrome OS Terminal. The other method also shrinks the display down to a much smaller size.
The solution requires users to first install Activity Launcher. Then, every time they log in, they’ll need to;
- Launch Activity Launcher
- Use the search bar to look for “display”
- Click or tap on “com.android.settings.DisplaySettings.” That will run the system’s hidden display settings
- Select the button labeled “Advanced”
- Click or tap on “Display size”
- Use the on-page slider to shrink the display size to “Small”