Google reverts crippling Android app scaling bug affecting the Chrome OS Beta and Dev channel

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Android show scaling has been a controversial matter within the Chromebook neighborhood because the elimination of Android’s DPI scaling setting in Chrome OS 67. The fonts and contact targets in Android apps seem tiny and illegible, making them extremely irritating to make use of in comparison with Chrome and native Chrome apps. There was workarounds to extend Android app scaling, however these strategies do not work anymore. Folks have complained about it within the Chromebook neighborhood boards and have been submitting bugs, and, to be sincere, I am unable to blame them. Google is now testing a brand new system known as “uniform scaling” within the Chrome OS Beta and Dev channel to deal with the issue with tiny Android functions, but it surely’s stuffed with points.

Uniform scaling is Google’s reply to the Android app scaling complaints littered in all places on the Chromium bug tracker and the Chromebook neighborhood boards. It scales Android apps to be 25% bigger to turn out to be readable and fewer irritating to make use of.

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Left: Telegram Android app with out uniform scaling. Proper:  With uniform scaling.

As proven above, the general format of Android apps seems bigger with uniform scaling. The font and interface are scaled up considerably greater than earlier than, making it simpler to learn and work together with the app. Whereas the choice to extend scaling for Android apps is the proper transfer, particularly from an accessibility standpoint, the change causes its personal points, comparable to making apps seem too huge and slicing off content material. There’s additionally one moderately obtrusive unanticipated consequence.

Final night time, I attempted to make amends for homework utilizing Squid, a preferred note-taking app discovered on the Google Play Retailer. I began to put in writing, and I observed that my writing began to maneuver away from my digital pen. That is bizarre, I assumed. I restarted Squid, and it did the identical factor. I minimized the Squid app and examined the Ideas Android app to see if it was a Squid subject, and it exhibited the identical drawback. Have a look:

Canvas

Ideas app with uniform scaling. Fully off-centered from my digital pen.

As you possibly can see, the enter is nowhere close to the place my stylus truly is. I’ve to be actively compensating for the misalignment to attract appropriately, which is a major annoyance (particularly when drawing faces).

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Squid app with uniform scaling. Ink initially trails behind my digital pen till I raise it.

Squid is impacted considerably greater than the Ideas app. The ink initially trails my drawing pen till I raise it, shifting the entire stroke to the underside proper. This makes drawing not possible since I’ve to foretell the place the ink goes to finish up.

A few of you may be questioning why I am making an enormous fuss about it if the issue does not exist on the Chrome OS steady channel. Consider it this manner: we’re already late within the beta cycle for Chrome OS 86. The clock is ticking, and there is not loads of time for the difficulty to be fastened earlier than the anticipated launch of Chrome OS 86 steady (until Google delays it, which does occur). Fans and internet builders leaping to the Beta channel to check out upcoming options with “low threat” will discover their Android apps close to unusable. In the event you want drawing to work appropriately on Android apps once more, you may must powerwash (or manufacturing facility reset) your Chromebook to modify again to the steady channel, which erases your whole knowledge saved in your Chromebook. I am not the one one operating into this drawback both — individuals have messaged me saying they will now not handwrite notes or draw on Android apps, which destroyed their workflow. Here is what sucks about this: there is no such thing as a method to flip uniform scaling off. Till Google fixes the terrible uniform scaling bug, you are caught with misaligned inking. Not good, Google.

In the event you’re negatively impacted by uniform scaling issues and like to not again up and powerwash your Chromebook, there are a few issues you possibly can attempt to work across the points.

Workaround #1

In the event you do not annotate or draw on Android apps, do that workaround. You’ll be able to change Android’s show scaling by exposing the hidden show settings in Android.

  1. Set up Exercise Launcher (or any equal app that may launch hidden actions) from the Google Play retailer.
  2. Launch Exercise Launcher, seek for “show,” and click on on com.android.settings.DisplaySettings to launch the hidden show settings.
  3. Click on on the “Superior” button, then click on “Show measurement.”
  4. Shrink the show measurement to “Small” by shifting the slider to the left.

Your apps ought to seem precisely like how they used to look with out uniform scaling. You need to do steps #2-Four each time you log off or restart your Chromebook.

Workaround #2

If you want to annotate or draw on Android apps, this workaround will assist get the pen’s inking centered. You may have to ADB into the Android subsystem and alter Android’s show density utilizing a couple of instructions.

This workaround requires enabling ADB debugging, which lets you set up apps not verified by Google. Android Police and Google aren’t responsible for damages brought on by sideloading dangerous apps. Disabling this function would require a powerwash.
  1. If you have already got Linux put in in your Chromebook, you might skip this step. In any other case, launch Chrome OS Settings, click on on Linux (Beta) on the navigation pane, and click on the “Activate” button. If you cannot discover it, your system might not be eligible for Linux, a requirement for this workaround.
  2. Activate “Allow ADB debugging,” which is tucked underneath “Develop Android apps” within the Linux (Beta) part of Chrome OS Settings.
  3. Launch the Linux terminal from the launcher. ADB is required to switch the Android subsystem. To do that, sort and enter the next: sudo apt replace && sudo apt set up android-tools-adb.
  4. As soon as ADB is put in, search for the Android subsystem: adb units.
  5. It’s best to see a tool known as “emulator-####.” Be aware that the “https://www.androidpolice.com/#” will differ relying in your system. Copy it.
  6. ADB into the Android subsystem: adb -s emulator-#### shell.
  7. In the event you did these steps appropriately, your terminal ought to show your system title. For instance, my Pixel Slate says nocturne_cheets:/ $ 
  8. Change the density of Android’s window supervisor to 120: wm density 120.

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If performed appropriately, that is what your terminal output ought to seem like.

The content material inside Android apps will probably be very tiny, however the inking will precisely comply with your drawing pen. I like to recommend reverting the density setting again to default whenever you’re completed drawing: wm density reset.

I hope the builders at Google will repair the bugs brought on by uniform scaling. As of now, this new scaling has fully damaged all Android drawing apps, considerably impacting artists and college students. I filed a bug report on the Chromium bug tracker, and I hope the builders will bounce in and rapidly repair the difficulty earlier than it reaches the steady channel.

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