This is Project Athena: A new Chrome OS interface work-in-progress


We stumbled on to code references for Google’s Project Athena last month and now you actually can what it is for yourself. The Chromium OS team is calling it an experiment for now but it could be the underpinnings of an entirely new Chrome OS(s goog) user experience. Chromium OS is the open-source platform Google uses and adds to for its Chrome OS computers.

On Friday, Google evangelist François Beaufort showed off a screenshot with the new, card-like interface, which reminds me a bit of a digital Rolodex: Browser and app tabs are cards that rotate forward or back as if you’re spinning them towards or away from you.

Project Athea early version

When we first saw code references to Project Athena, I suggested the new Chrome OS interface could be more touch-friendly but there’s little evidence of that in the single screen shot. About the only way I could see this being for a touchscreen is by swiping up or down on the display to move through the various cards; it’s difficult to tell anything more concrete without seeing icons or touch-points.

That doesn’t mean you can’t see more, however. Beaufort says that anyone can follow along in the progress of Project Athena by “compiling the convenient “athena_main” target with ninja -C out/Release athena_main.” So if you don’t mind a little elbow grease, downloading and compiling, you can get a better look. Sounds like I have new project for this weekend.





While I realize I am in the minority and that everyone seems to love Material Design, I don’t actually feel that it translates that well to anything but a phone or small tablet. I kind of go a little crazy (not in a good way) when I see how much screen real estate is wasted when it is used on larger tablets and landscape focused devices. Sure the content adapts a little but not much. I think the introduction page sums things up nicely, big text, lots of white space and little content actually on the screen at one time:

I know Kevin is probably excited because this would seem to be a step closer to a Chromebook tablet but I can’t help but wonder what’s the point of a Chromebook if it functions just like an android device? One of the things I like about the current interface is that it is simple and efficient but is desktop oriented. Flipping through apps like on a Rolodex and jumping through hoops to close windows because it is going to be discouraged seems like a disappointing turn of events.

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