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Summary:

One of the best things about using a touch-optimized Tablet PC is the ability to surf the web by touch. That’s if the browser supports it, of course. The Chrome extension chromeTouch turns that browser into the best browser on a touch Tablet bar none.

chromeTouch

I have been testing the HP EliteBook 2740p convertible notebook this week, a process that has invoked a wave of nostalgia. I used the predecessor, the 2710p, in my work as a consultant and this current model has been just as good a tool as the earlier one. The 2740p is a full Tablet PC with pen input, and it also has a touchscreen for hand operation. The 12-inch screen works wonderfully in slate mode, as the touchscreen allows scrolling and panning by fingertip. This is especially easy to do with the addition of the free Google Chrome extension, chromeTouch.

The chromeTouch extension turns Chrome into a fully touch-optimized browser, and it’s configurable to fit the way I work. Once installed it puts an icon in the URL bar that shows green when a web page can be operated by touch (most can), and the extension can be toggled off by tapping this icon. I haven’t found a reason to turn it off yet, so I’m not sure why you would need to do that.

One of the abilities you often lose when you use a browser by touch is the ability to highlight text for copy operations. This is not a problem with chromeTouch, as it has an “auto” mode that knows if you are dragging over text on a web page then you must want to highlight it. This works surprisingly well, although it means you have to be careful where you touch a page on the screen when you want to scroll or pan. This highlight mode can be disabled, if all you want to do is move the page around.

An unexpected (and very cool) feature that is enabled in the chromeTouch settings is the “no scrollbar” mode. This option is built on the premise that if you are moving the web page around by touch, then the scrollbars are extra fluff that just take up space on the screen. Selecting the “no scrollbar” mode makes them disappear and frees up that extra bit of screen real estate.

There is a surprising amount of breadth in the chromeTouch extension, and I find it one of the best I have tried with Chrome. It turns the browser into a whole new class of browser that is wonderful to use by touch.

 
  1. ive often wondered how Google would make ChromeOS suitable for tablets & it looks like something like this might be the answer.

    although hopefully Google will build ChromeOS from the ground up with a netbook & tablet modes that will make it easier to flip between.

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  2. I’ve been using trying different Chrome extensions for kinetic touch/pen scrolling, none of them seem to be as good as the best Firefox extensions, and each has their annoyances and problems.

    I’m currently using chromeTouch. I’d prefer the tap once to allow selection behavior instead of chromeTouch’s auto mode.

    Dragscroll has double-tap to select text, but text selection is touchy and annoying. It also doesn’t do kinetics.

    Quick Scrolling has tap to select and ok text selection, but is buggy–GMail crashes when this extension is enabled, and on some way pages you can’t grab the margins of the page to scroll. The kinetic scrolling is somewhat twitchier than chromeTouch or Web Banana.

    Web Banana had the best kinetic scrolling, but doesn’t have a good way to select text on a tablet.

    Blarq: chromeTouch is an extension not provided by Google. I’d hope any built-in kinetic touch scrolling for Chrome would be better than any of these extensions.

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    1. What is the best firefox extension for the purpose?

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      1. I don’t spend much time in Firefox (hardly any for months until a few days ago) so I’m not sure which is the best, but the one I’ve seen recommended is “Grab and Drag”. I might start using Firefox more, Lastpass for Firefox is much superior to the Chrome version, not to mention the touch scrolling extensions…

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      2. I use Grab and Drag in Firefox. This Chrome extension is a little better than that, but similar.

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  3. I agree that it’s a good workaround, but it’s not nearly as good as if Chrome natively supported touch like newer builds of Firefox and IE8.

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    1. Er, natively supported touch-panning I mean.

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    2. Touch scroll is in Android, so the technology is available…

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      1. Yes but I’m referring to the Windows 7 native feature that there’s an API for that Firefox implemented months ago.

        It’d be even less work than porting the Android code.

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  4. You should check out chrometouch addin, excellent touch support, easy to switch mode to turn it off or on.
    http://www.tenniswood.co.uk/technology/chrometouch-extension-for-windows-touch-laptops/

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  5. Coming from Firefox, on my setup grab and drag and super drag and go are my most important tablet extensions. As noted by sam, I wish chrometouch would change to tap once for selection behaviour, as super drag and go does. At the moment the behaviour of chrometouch interferes with the Chrome Drag and Go extension, as I cannot drag links to new tabs whilst in auto mode, yet I rarely use text highlighting so that is the mode I wish to use.

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